New Pennington County program aims to keep people out of jail
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - According to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, the three-year recidivism rate for 2019 to 2022 was more than 40% in the state. A new jail reform program will provide inmates with resources that could lower that number.
In May, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office launched the Individual Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education program, or IGNITE. The program offers education that could help inmates get high school equivalency diploma, get job skill training, and receive substance abuse counseling. Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller says he’s excited to see what the program can offer.
“As far as the job description goes, we put down what we thought this program was going to be. But Jessica is going to bring new ideas to the table that we probably haven’t even thought of yet. This will be an involving initiative in our community. Were going to find what works and were going to focus on that, and try to make this as successful as possible,” Mueller said.
Jessica Afrank, the IGNITE coordinator, says there’s a lot of unknown because this is both a new program and a new position.
“Community connection is huge. As Mueller said I already have a lot of community connections and of course I want to expand that, I don’t know every single one. So I want to make sure we are utilizing all the programs that are in the community that are wanting to work with us. That’s my number one goal to begin with,” said Afrank.
Afrank believes this position will allow her to “change these individuals and create stability for them.” She goes on to say she hopes the program will limit the amount of people returning to jail.
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