Muskogee officials announce new plan to break the jail cycle in community

MUSKOGEE -

Muskogee County officials announced this week a plan to help first time offenders get help, treatment and job training.

 

"If we can help these people in our community, it becomes a better place for our kids, it's a better place for everybody," said Charolette Sanders, a graduate of Muskogee's 'Bridges out of Poverty' program.

 

If you get caught for drugs, lose your job and can't pay your court costs--there's a good chance you'll be stuck in jail for a long time.

 

That cycle is putting a burden on county jails and court systems.

 

Officials from Muskogee are working on a new program that could put a stop to the revolving door of incarceration.

 

According to Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier, the county jail has an average roster of 300 inmates waiting for court dates and serving out sentences.

 

It costs the county taxpayers nearly $50 per day to house an inmate.

 

For Sheriff Frazier and other county officials that's a lot of money and some of those inmates are just sitting there because they couldn't pay their fines and don't have a job.

 

 

"When I can go in there, I know a hundred of them by first name basis because you deal with the same people over and over again. So, that’s what we’re going to stop,” said Frazier.

 

The plan is to catch some of the first-time offenders and get them the help they need.

 

"What we’re talking about costs nothing. So, if we’re able to send them through a program like this and actually address the root of the problem and keep them out of jail they’ll become productive members of society,” said Ken Doke, Muskogee County District 1 Commissioner.

 

Officials want to help steer those people into workforce job training and substance abuse programs while still staying tough on crime.

 

"So what this is to a lot of people this could be sort of a last chance you know opportunity,” said Doke.

 

Charolette Sanders is a graduate of Muskogee's Bridges out of Poverty Program.

 

Sher's recovered from alcohol addiction and lost her job of 14 years because of it.

 

"In my cause I was lucky that it stopped before anything drastic happened, but unfortunately there’s many out there that don’t have—it doesn't stop and they end up in jail over one mistake," said Sanders.

 

"I think this program would be beneficial people that are just tired of being told no. They’re running around in a cycle and they’re going to this place for help, this kind of like a one place they can go and have somebody believe in them."

 

The program is still in the preliminary stages. A big group of community organizations and partners will be meeting Thursday to discuss how to implement the new program.

 

 

 

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