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PCJ IOP Program

Gwen Schilling, a chemical dependency and addiction therapist for Porter-Starke Services, talks to more than two dozen women who received certificates Tuesday after successful completion of the Chemical Dependency and Addiction program at the Porter County Jail through the Porter-Starke Services in Valparaiso. In 12 years, more than 3,000 people have been through the 10-week program that provides treatment for over 90 male and female inmates each day. "It's been very rewarding for us," said Schilling, who runs the jail program along with Dennis Mallonee and Leo Smith. "We see some come back, but we have a lot of success stories, too," she said. At left is Sheriff David Lain.

Sheriff David Lain speaks to more than two dozen women inmates Tuesday morning at the Porter Jail during a graduation ceremony from the Chemical Dependency and Addiction program through the Porter-Starke Services in Valparaiso. In 12 years, more than 3,000 people have been through the 10-week program.

Porter County inmates work toward brighter future

Sarah Gollner NWI.com

Pictures of women who lost their lives to addiction hang on the walls in a room at the Porter County Jail.

These images serve as a constant reminder for those in the Porter County Jail Chemical Dependency and Abuse Program. These women are taking steps toward a much brighter future.

"You don't want to be somebody else on the wall," Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain told the group at their graduation ceremony on Tuesday. This marked the 58th graduation ceremony for this program since forming 12 years ago by former Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds. 

"I've got faith in you," Lain said. "I want to be your cheerleader."

After Lain spoke, three women shared their "Goodbye Letters," letters they wrote as a final farewell to their addiction.

One graduate told her story of heroin use that ended the life of her father and her best friend of 17 years. She couldn't fight the tears as she spoke of the hurt her addiction has caused her.

Another woman who graduated from the program a few weeks ago suffered from an alcohol and marijuana addiction. She spoke about the benefits she's experienced living a sober life and said she will continue to move forward. 

Following the letters, community members and supporters in attendance took turns expressing words of encouragement and hope to these women. Among several visitors was Rocco (Rocky) Schiralli, CEO of Porter-Starke Services, Indiana State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, and Dr. Mann Spitler III who lost his daughter to heroin use in 2002.

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