Inmates of the
Porter County Jail are going back to school.
All three Porter
County Commissioners got behind a request from the Center of Workforce
Innovations to initiate an adult education program at the jail to allow
inmates to earn a high school education and have better chance of finding
employment once they are released.
That decreases the
likelihood of them being repeat offenders, said Sheriff David Lain, and thus
a less populated jail. “It’s trying to break that cycle of coming back.”
CWI President and
CEO Linda Woloshansky said a lack of education is a common factor for those
serving jail time which is why adult education “really needs to occur” at
A pilot program
with six inmates has already begun using the roughly $4,000 in donations the
CWI has received, but those funds are likely to run out by the end of June,
Commissioners strapped for cash, Lain offered cash on hand from his
department to keep the program going for the rest of the year, which will be
coupled with funds from the Porter County Community Foundation. Woloshansky
said about $17,000 is needed to cover this year and then $27,500 for the
full 2015 calendar year.
That money will be
used to pay a teacher, a teacher’s aide and for supplies. The set up is
modeled after the one in place at Pulaski County Jail, Woloshansky said.
are looking to support the program next year in their budget with maybe half
the funds coming from the Sheriff’s Department.
Lain said he is
confident in providing the funding which could be taken from commissary
About 25 to 35 PCJ
inmates will take part in the program for 8 to 10 hours a week with two or
three sessions, Woloshansky said. It would last 48 weeks each year with some
time off for holidays.
Lain said the last
adult education program at the jail ended in 2010. That was when Portage
School Board voted to close 19 adult education centers due to shortages in
funding from the state. Some of the centers were reopened by the CWI.
interest in revamping education at the jail grew over time, helped along by
donations from community members.
“There have been
requests, requests, requests,” she said.
Inmates will be
evaluated and selected on the potential that they can complete their high
school education, and will have a better chance of finding employment once
their jail sentence expires, Woloshansky said.
Workforce One is
also eyeing development of vocational programs for those who complete the
program and are released from jail.
President John Evans, R-North, along with Commissioners Laura Shurr Blaney,
D-South and Nancy Adams, R-Center, thanked Porter County Community
Foundation President Barb Young for providing the money to carry the program
“That’s a very
thoughtful gift,” said Evans. “I think that gives us a really good start.”
she wants start out conservative in launching the program but believes it
will grow “more robust.”
Commissioners voted 3-0 in honoring the County Convention, Recreation and
Visitor’s Commissioner’s request to be a partner with the Towns of
Chesterton and Porter to pay for a feasibility study on having a historic
trolley line connecting the towns with Dunes Parks Station.
recently made to the town councils by PCCRVC officials asking them for their
commitment for the $19,500 study by Stone Consulting. With the Commissioners
chipping in, the study can be split four ways, making the cost $4,300 each
for the County, Chesterton, Porter and the PCCRVC.
The study will help
determine what needs to be done and the overall cost projection for the
project. It proposes to use original South Shore cars to transport
passengers, according to PCCRVC officials, and has the potential to boost
tourism in Porter County.
The Chesterton Town
Council took the PCCRVC’s request under advisement last week.
Evans said the
Commissioner’s share will come from CEDIT funding while advising “there’s
not much left there.”
In other business:
Commissioners’ approved the purchase of two new John Deere 624K 4wd wheel
loaders for the Highway Department at a bid price of $269,000.
-- A change was
made in the management of the County Building Department. The daily
operations of the department will now be overseen by Plan Commission
Executive Director Robert Thompson instead of the County Commissioners.
“That’s the way it
originally had been intended,” Evans said.
department has three positions which share an office with the Plan
Commission. The Commissioners will still be in charge of hiring for the