A group of nearly 100 volunteers help to fulfill the spiritual needs of the inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center each year. Almost half of them gathered Saturday at the center for their annual Refresher Training session.
Chaplain Gene Purtle explained that some of those volunteers do Sunday Services, others teach studies mid-week, and some distribute materials. “I require them to come in annually for what I call a Refresher Training. The idea is just to keep them thinking about the special setting they are working in. We want them to be very familiar with issues of safety and security and other things they might need to be aware of when inside JCDC,” he said.
Before this Saturday’s training session volunteers were greeted by County Executive Frank White, Jr., and legislators Scott Burnett, Alfred Jordan and Crystal Williams who thanked the group for the work they do and the time they spend with inmates.
“Thank you, thank you for your service,” White said, “I am grateful for your selflessness, dedication and kindness. Your caring hearts and understanding are truly a blessing to our inmates.”
“Our job at Jackson County is to ensure the safety and security of our inmates, but we must also remember the importance of spiritual support and the positive impact it can have on a person’s attitude and behavior. Because of you, we are working to create a more stable environment for our inmates, staff and the public,” he said. “It is my hope that once inmates leave here, they’ll be driven to lead a productive life as a citizen and not come back to this facility. Your volunteer work is a step toward making that happen.”
During the training Corrections Director Joe Piccinini talked about many of the issues the jail is facing and how they are being dealt with. He also answered questions from the group. Corrections Officers also took volunteers through training on PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act and other scenarios including role playing on how to handle certain things that might come up when interacting with an inmate.
“Ninety-five percent of people that go to jail and prison will at some point return to our communities. We want their behavior to improve so that they might be productive citizens. A Correctional Center should have means of correcting behavior beyond just incarceration. True spiritual change often brings significant behavioral change,” Purtle said.