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New Transitions Program--May 2013 Wakulla Times

OUR NEW WCSO TRANSITIONS PROGRAM
BY CHARLIE CREEL
SHERIFF, WAKULLA COUNTY

This month I want to talk about a new program that has me very excited. The Transitions Program is being spearheaded by Captain Jackie Martin of our detention operation. Captain Martin is one of Major Jared Miller’s top assistants and he has a real desire to serve the inmates who end up in our facility.

The Transitions Program is something that Captain Martin used in Leon County to assist inmates in that jurisdiction before he came to work at the WCSO.
Transitions gives inmates an opportunity to talk about real life issues they will face after being released from jail or prison. Captain Martin operates a program for women and also one for men who get a chance to get questions answered about a variety of topics. In addition, the WCSO program provides assistance to inmates who require help filling out a job application.

Looking ahead toward their release, the inmates have questions regarding employment, housing, holding on to a new job and bonding with their children.
Inmates have concerns about how they will provide for their children while they are incarcerated and it can also be difficult for an inmate to spend special days in jail such as Christmas and birthdays.

Captain Martin notes that many of the female inmates take incarceration and separation harder than their male counterparts. Detention Assistant Sheila Johnson sits in on the female program to offer her support from the perspective of a female correctional professional.
Inmates must find ways for family members to care for their young children and they must address how to deal with the issues that arise in life. If the inmate has been convicted of a felony the chances of finding employment can become much more difficult. Captain Martin and his staff work with the inmates to help them address these concerns and possible job skills as well.

Transitions is a volunteer program that is open to all the inmates and the response has been good during the early sessions. Captain Martin hopes more inmates will want to become involved in the program once they speak to other inmates about what the program was like. It is held in the WCSO Library and staged a couple of times each month.

In Captain Martin’s Leon County experience he created outreach programs where individuals from the community volunteered their time and offered input to the incarcerated. We say we want to help the inmates but this is an opportunity to show them we care.

We have got to be involved in detention activities for more than just the paycheck that is involved because nobody gets rich working in law enforcement. You must have the desire to try and give something back to the inmates and make a difference in their lives. It takes the entire community to make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated and become a dedicated volunteer.
During the early sessions we have found that we have had a mixture of white inmates and African American inmates. We have attempted to get them to think about real life issues and our ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of recidivism among inmates in our facility.

A total of 26 inmates have attended the first two sessions and we hope for even more as the month’s progress. The largest outburst of emotion comes when inmates begin to discuss their children. Other inmates express frustration by the lack of job opportunities and return to jail after being released.
With a great deal of idle time, we would like to make sure the inmates are using their time well and stimulating the brain. We can help our inmates or we can continue to incarcerate them, but helping them has a much more positive impact on our taxpayers who pay for housing these men and women.

We are very pleased to have staff members like Captain Martin who spent 24 years in Leon County working for Sheriff Eddie Boone and Sheriff Larry Campbell before he joined us at the WCSO. The Transitions program is something he worked on in Leon County for three years. The captain has always been involved with detention activities during his law enforcement career. The captain joined the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office on May 25, 2012 and we are glad to have him.

• Some of the proud accomplishments of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office during the past month include three of our staff members volunteering their free time to build new steps for a resident of Wakulla Station. The homeowner had steep steps to her home and was concerned about falling and injuring herself. Ability 1st helped the woman by providing the materials and a construction volunteer. In addition, Lt. Mike Kemp, Sgt. Danny Harrell and Deputy Richard Moon gave freely of their time and helped create a new set of steps that were not as steep as the ones they replaced. This is not the first time a crew of WCSO staff members has volunteered to help others in our community.

• I was proud to assist in the pinning ceremony for new sergeants Ryan Muse and Lorne Whaley. Ryan and Lorne joined our road patrol division shortly after the ceremony. Lorne was pinned by his dad Earl and Ryan was pinned by his soon to be bride, Michelle.

• Deputies Clint Beam and Cole Wells were selected to become part of our Criminal Investigations Division (CID) at the same time Ryan and Lorne were reassigned to the road patrol.

• The family of the late Sgt. Fred Bailey attended a ceremony where I retired Fred posthumously at a lieutenant.

• At the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office we are selecting top employees from our staff that represented the law enforcement end of the operation as well as detention and administration. The first quarter of 2013 saw Deputy Scott Powell recognized as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Quarter. Detention Deputy Rocky Strickland was recognized as the Detention Deputy of the Quarter and Kim Gilhausen was recognized as the Civilian Employee of the Quarter.

• The WCSO has investigated 80 traffic crashes through March 31, 2013 which puts us a little below the number investigated through the same time period in 2012. We hope that is a sign that motorists are being more careful while on our roads.

• We started cleaning litter debris off state roads again in January and the road crew of inmates has picked up 28,000 pounds of litter on state and county roads during the first three months of 2013. We have found that our cleaning efforts have kept the state roads from becoming as ugly as they were. The reduction of trash on state roads has led to a slightly smaller amount of litter weight total when compared to previous years.

• The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office took part in the Coalition for Youth Town Hall meeting in April and presented information about what the sheriff’s office does for our youth.
 Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for citizens and youth by reducing both crime and the fear of crime throughout Wakulla County. We want to reach beyond the role of proactive law enforcement and become coactive with the citizens and youth of Wakulla County. This role will improve the quality of life for the citizens of the county. Some of the programs will have been doing or will begin doing include: social network and Internet safety education; teen driving challenge and distracted driving challenge; youth bicycle safety; child safety education; child fingerprint identification; Substance Abuse Violence Education (SAVE) ; Sheriff’s Explorer Program; McGruff “Take a Bite of Crime Campaign”; and support of the Sheriff’s Youth Ranches.

• We hosted another National Drug Take Back Day in late April which occurred prior to this article being published. This is an event when citizens can bring their unwanted and outdated medications to three locations around the county to be turned over to a deputy for proper disposal. For those who may have missed the event, the WCSO has a secure drug disposal bin in the lobby of my office. It is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week if you need to throw away old medications. There is no charge for the service. The bin is located in the WCSO lobby to the right of our records division.

• There are some events in May that will be of interest to the community. The WCSO will host the 16th Annual Kids Fishing Tournament on Saturday, May 18 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. This is an opportunity for youths to get a taste of the outdoors and learn about fishing. Our goal is to give our young people an opportunity to build a love for fishing that may last them a lifetime. The event runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Woolley Park in Panacea.

• On Thursday, May 30, the sheriff’s office is hosting Project Graduation at Wakulla Springs State Park. We are expecting more than 250 Wakulla High School seniors to visit the park and enjoy food, fellowship, swimming and prizes at their final night together as a group. It also provides a safe place for students to gather and avoid the dangers of drinking and driving before their final night as a high school student. Anyone who would like to help defray the cost of the event is asked to send a check to Project Graduation, 15 Oak Street, Crawfordville, FL 32327, Attention: Susie Bowen. We appreciate any financial support we receive to help our young people.

• The Wakulla and Franklin County Sheriff’s Offices are hosting a benefit golf tournament on Friday, June 7 to raise money for the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches. The tournament will be held at St. James Bay in Carrabelle. Everyone is invited to come out and smack some golf balls around the course for a good cause.

• We also have had some severe traffic crashes recently and I want to ask everyone to be extra careful on our roads. We don’t want to have to investigate a traffic homicide when crashes are avoidable by just being careful while you drive. Don’t text and drive and don’t drink and drive. Have a safe month of May and we will be seeing you around Wakulla County.

 

 

 

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