In 2009, the staff and volunteers at the Municipal Correctional Institution vehemently opposed closing the institution and moving the inmates to the Jackson County jail for three reasons:
▪ We had firsthand knowledge of the toxic atmosphere at the Jackson County jail.
▪ We did not want the inmates shoehorned into an old building with no access to classrooms, a library or healthy outdoor activities such as gardening.
▪ They would not have access to social services provided at the Municipal Correctional Institution.
As the city proceeds to plan for a new correctional facility, I urge decision-makers to understand the needs of the inmate population and to make that understanding central to the planning process.
Municipal inmates have a high incidence of mental health issues, and almost 100 percent of them have drug or alcohol issues. Most experienced abuse as children. During their incarceration at the Municipal Correctional Institution, they were surrounded with staff members, volunteers and professionals who provided treatment and encouraged them to take advantage of the services provided by the community.
Although time is of the essence, I hope the planning process will focus on providing a true correctional environment with necessary services.