We know, we care and we’re trying our best to help
The Express published an unsigned letter on Feb. 2, 2018, under the opinion column from someone stating they are the parent of a 19-year-old addicted son detained at the Clinton County Correctional Facility.
The letter was from a loving parent of a child who is so frustrated with the feeling of helplessness that often comes when combating addiction in the family.
In it, there were also misperceptions that should be addressed.
In 40 years, I’ve had a policy not to respond to newspaper articles, but this one tugged too strongly at my heart.
As a prison warden, I have grown accustomed to the frustration of seeing men and women repeatedly return to our facility.
One of the biggest frustrations that I struggle most with is to walk by the visitation waiting area and see parents, spouses, children and others who love someone we are detaining.
Their faces tell me a lot about their fear, anger, hurt and need.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way.
Many in all functions of law enforcement experience the same.
One thing I have come to understand while working in law enforcement in Clinton County is how impressive the effort is to do the best they can to make a positive difference with limited resources for those detained.
The courts have created special programs working with the Probation Department to address targeted needs (i.e., Veterans Court, Drug Court, Day Reporting, etc.).
The support services professionals from all types of Clinton County agencies who provide services to those detained meet monthly at our re-entry committee meetings to prepare detainees being released, often directing them to additional programming.
The county commissioners have committed resources such as our new mental health professional at the facility, a unique contract with Crossroads Counseling and other expenditures to improve treatment, food services, medical services and exercise for our detainees.
Lock Haven University has partnered with us repeatedly to assess our needs.
Even as I write this, we are trying to determine what changes or programs can be made to better prepare our detainees with their efforts to succeed upon release, to include work force development.
I know this much: Clinton County cares.
We are not overcrowded at the facility.
We always have some empty cells. Clinton County was wise to build extra housing so as to take advantage of the needs of those agencies that are overcrowded.
By housing out-of-county detainees, we make $4 million to offset many costs that might otherwise be passed on to taxpayers.
It creates good jobs for our citizens.
It provides resources to upgrade the facility.
We have both cell housing and dorm housing. All facilities build less expensive dorm housing in which to place the lower-security detainees.
State detainees are usually former county detainees who came back one too many times and were sentenced to longer sentences.
Fines, costs and restitution are imposed in every court of this land to offset the cost of operating the courts and attempt to assist victims in recouping some of their loss.
Addiction has hit my extended family.
Also, I recently heard our President speaking passionately about the death of his brother to addiction.
It shows no mercy.
Just know that we know, we care and we are trying our best to come to the addicted person’s aid.
I’m a person of faith and hope and pray your son reaches that point where he can take charge of his addiction when assistance is again offered.
Meanwhile, I recommend you reach out to support groups of those in your same situation, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
John A. Rowley is warden of the Clinton County Correctional Facility at McElhattan.