Porter County Jail inmates graduate from drug program
December 12, 2012 Heather Augustyn Times Correspondent
VALPARAISO | More than 40 male inmates at the Porter
County Jail graduated from the 10-week Chemical
Dependency and Addictions Program on Wednesday morning,
a program through Porter-Starke Services that has been
helping prisoners kick alcohol and drug problems for the
past 10 years.
Gwen Schilling who heads up the women’s portion of the
program, said that there have been 2,028 graduates over
that decade with a recidivism rate of just under 50
percent, much better than the 67 percent national
average for all such programs.
“I like to think it’s because of the quality of our
program, and that’s the feedback we get,” said
She said that about half of those in the program suffer
from alcohol addictions while the other half suffers
from a drug addiction, mainly from opiates. The number
of meth addicts has declined, due in part, she believes,
to a major meth lab bust in 2010 in Kouts.
During the ceremony, Sheriff David Lain spoke about
inner strength, choices and paths in life.
“You worked hard. Own it. And you lived long enough to
do it. You made it and you have the chance to keep
making it. You can’t give up,” said Lain, who also told
the group that he was proud of them.
In attendance were members of Porter-Starke’s staff,
including CEO Rocco Schiralli who stressed that the
graduates now had people, tools and resources always
available to them.
A number of graduates read “goodbye letters” to their
addictions, bravely standing up in front of the packed
room to face their demons.
“Dear alcohol. I think about all the good times and bad
times we had together, but I have to let you go. When I
hang out with you I only get into trouble. I hope you
understand, I need to be free. I have lost my job and
you put me in the Porter County Jail and you made me
lose 440 days of my life,” read one graduate.
Another read, “I remember when I was 5 and took my first
drink and that led to smoking marijuana. Now I’m in jail
and it’s all due to my drinking. I have lost everything.
So long, farewell, and goodbye red Solo cup.”
Yet another read his letter addressed to Xanax and
Vicodin, “when I was sad you’d make me feel better and I
thought we’d be together forever, but then things took a
turn. I do not want to be with you anymore. I need to
let you go. If I don’t, you will surely drag me back to
prison or the grave.”
Many of the graduates will then be released as part of
their court order, but others face sentencing, some for
crimes like homicide.
But Kimberly White, head nurse at Porter-Starke, told
the group that no matter where their path in life takes
them next, they all have one thing in common.
“Today means hope. You have hope,” she said.