By Andy Gardner
Drug and alcohol problems are leading to the vast majority of local incarcerations, and in response a local jail official is trying to steer correctional services toward true rehabilitation.
Rodney Votra, St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility Director of Inmate Programs, told the county Opioid Task Force that he no longer sees their work as “babysitting” and believes inmates gaining skills while locked up will reduce recidivism.
“A lot of people who come to our facility don’t necessarily belong in our facility, but we don’t have the mental health facilities, the rehab facilities,” Votra said. “The majority of our population is there for drug and alcohol addiction issues. If somebody is there for a burglary, it’s probably because of their addiction issues.”
Part of the shift on how corrections handles inmates is getting everyone who works at the jail to understand that crime and recidivism for the most part aren’t an issue of moral deficiency.
“How do we train our staff to understand there’s a much bigger picture … than housing inmates, make sure they follow the rules and let them go when their sentence is up?” Votra said. “We want people to realize there’s a bigger picture here … the addiction issues … the mental health issues.”