Female inmates graduate from safety course

An updated program at the Jackson County Jail aims to help female inmates improve relationships after they leave.

Last week, eight participants graduated from Women Seeking Safety.

The program takes those who may have substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder and aims to show them how to develop healthy relationships.

“It also shows them how to remain safe as they deal with issues in connection to their previous unhealthy ones,” said Charlette Moss of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.

Moss led the group through the eight-week program.

She has been leading the class with women for years, but they weren’t meeting frequently, so they weren’t consistently attending.

“I was only in there once a month,” she said.

That’s why Moss decided to meet with Sheriff Rick Meyer and Jail Commander Chris Everhart to help update the curriculum so it would provide more structure.

Inmates would be required to meet once a week for the course, and they had homework assignments.

That provided a stronger course, Moss said. The men also have a course, but she feels things are heading in a positive direction in the pod that holds females, she said.

“The female side needs it a lot,” she said. “They have a lot of issues that don’t get addressed concerning domestic violence, substance abuse, parenting, poverty and they need resources.”

Staci Wetter, 32, of Seymour went through the course and was sentenced to four years for dealing in methamphetamine. Wetter said she has been in jail for various charges throughout the years and has found herself in a number of domestic violence situations in that time.

Throughout her experience in the jail, Wetter said there didn’t seem to be as many opportunities for women to try to better themselves through classes. She said she feels that has changed.

“There is now help for the women in the jail, and I’m going to try to take advantage of it,” she said.

That’s not always been the case for inmates at the jail, Wetter said, especially for women. But programs such as Turning Point help inspire female inmates to take their lives back, she said.

“There’s a lot of hope for the females when they get out now,” she said. “They feel like they have a chance because of the resources they have.”

That’s the goal, Everhart said.

“I think there’s a need for it, and I’d like to see it continued,” he said.

He said he and Meyer have discussed branching off the course and adding other curriculum that complements it.

How to deal with child care, jobs, paying bills, budgeting, meal planning and other life skills are some things they would like to address.

“I think that’s hopefully something will lead to more of those skills,” he said.

Meyer agreed and said that’s why he has been supportive of the program. As an officer, Meyer said he has seen domestic violence issues throughout his career.

Some scenarios included men or women checking on their significant others extremely often and harshly, going through their phones, controlling them and more.

That’s a reason he was proud to hand the graduates a certificate and hopes it makes a difference.

“It’s great to see them succeed and go through this program,” Meyer said. “They’re good people in there, and they don’t need to put up with someone who’s treating them that way.”

Wetter said the course gave her hope that she can turn things around after she leaves the jail.

“It’s nice to see there is a chance and that you’re not getting thrown out with no hope,” she said. “I have a respect for what they’re trying to do.”