By Kristin Rover
Clermont County Commissioners in June approved the implementation of an alternative sentencing center for inmates in Clermont County.
Commissioners awarded the contract for the services to the Talbert House, a Cincinnati based non-profit organization that provides behavioral health and court corrections services in the community, to run the alternative training center.
Commissioner David Uible said Talbert House will be leasing space in the Clermont County Jail for the center, and the organization will be serving inmates with chemical or dependency issues.
“The jail is a big building,” Uible said. “It is divided right down the center, there is the north half and the south half. We’ve not opened the south side because of the cost of opening it.”
Uible said the south side is equipped with classrooms as well as pods for sleeping.
“It is perfect for this application,” Uible said.
Uible said the partnership with Talbert House will be beneficial for inmates, the county, and the community.
“We will be able to send our non-violent, alcohol and chemical dependent inmates to them,” Uible said about the Talbert House center. “We will pay a rate that is substantially lower than keeping them in the maximum security portion of the jail.”
Uible said the program is based on a program developed by former Ohio House Representative Bill Seitz.
Uible said the program is designed to decrease recidivism at the jail, open up additional space in the north side of the jail, and save the county money.
“Recidivism is like 70 percent,” Uible said about current statistics. “It’s a revolving door.”
Uible said inmates, especially those with chemical dependencies, often end up back in jail for similar problems once they are released.
Brad McMonigle, vice president of court and corrections at Talbert House, said their services help reduce recidivism by enabling the inmates to stay connected to the community, while serving their sentence and receiving treatment.
“When you go to jail, usually you would lose your job and disconnect from your family,” McMonigle said. “This is an attempt to keep the individual connected. That is what reduces recidivism is the ability to stay engaged with the community.”
He said inmates will have structured days that include drug and alcohol abuse treatment as well as mental health treatment while also being able to maintain a job, or work toward getting a job.
“It is all based on cognitive behavior,” McMonigle said about the treatment process. “Working with the individual to identify and change their thought pattern and improve decision making.”
Uible said the county will pay Talbert House for their services, and in addition, the Talbert House will pay the county to lease the space and utilize jail services, including food services, laundry services and more.
He said when it is all said and done the county will be saving money.
“We pay about $35 a day, which is about half of what we pay for the high security prison or jail,” Uible said about the services.
Uible said having the program will also open up additional space in the north side of the jail, which he said has been overcrowded.
“This is just a match made in heaven,” Uible said about the partnership. “It’s a win for tax payers, the county, and the inmate, who is actually going to get help.”
McMonigle said they haven’t worked out all the details about how inmates will be selected, but they will first begin services for female misdemeanor offenders.
He said staff will be moving to the Clermont County Jail and they hope to begin the program in August.
“We are looking forward to the partnership with Clermont,” McMonigle said. “We’re excited to get in there and work together to improve the lives of these individuals.”