Construction of work release center gets underway on city’s east side


Ground has officially been broken and construction has begun on the Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections Work Release Center on Seymour’s east side.

Officials from both counties conducted a ceremony to commemorate the achievement Wednesday afternoon at the future site of the building at 319 Dupont Drive.

Some of those involved with the project, which took two decades to put together, spoke about the process and the community impact.

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Jackson County Commissioner Drew Markel spoke first, discussing an email he received from J.L. Brewer, director of Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections, detailing the history of the project.

“This project officially started in 2000, so it’s 2020. When I look around here, almost everyone here had some sort of impact on this project over the years,” he said.

Markel then talked about how the project finally started coming together in 2018.

“We got Jennings County involved in this project because we were all facing numerous different issues with our jails at the time,” he said. “And at the time, the economy was booming and industry was looking for workers, so we had a lot of opportunities to put a work release center in place that would benefit both communities at the time.”{p dir=”ltr”}John Beatty, speaking on behalf of the Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections Advisory Board, discussed the cooperation required for this project to be completed.

“The thing that makes this project so impressive is the cooperation between counties, boards, councils, law enforcement agencies, judges, probation departments, public defenders and prosecutors,” he said. “In the current climate that we live in where views are so polarized, cooperation like it took to get this project approved and completed is indeed a tremendous accomplishment.”

Those who will use the facility will need to be sentenced, similar to home detention or a jail sentence.

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter said he promised this facility during his 2012 campaign and has since been working to make it happen.

“I’ve been heavy into this behind the scenes. I try to stay behind the scenes because I think you get more done behind the scenes,” he said.

Poynter said he believes the project will be a useful tool for rehabilitating offenders.

“I’ve been in the criminal justice system for 21 years, so I know, based on my experience, that this is the best thing,” Poynter said. “If you deal with what I deal with, what other judges deal with, prosecutors and stuff, these people come from a lot of dysfunctional families.

“The key is to stabilize these people, and the problem is without this, the only option I have is jail, which is easy because I’m just locking you up, but I’m not stabilizing your life because as soon as you get out, you’re going to go wherever you’re going to go.”

Poynter then talked about how he believes the center will make a difference.

“This provides people a safe environment to work on their problems,” he said. “Because there aren’t going to be drugs in here, you’re not going to have your buddies in here, you’re not going to have all of your bad influences in here. You’re going to go to work, you’re going to get counseling, you’re going to get education or whatever you need.”

The project to be built by TDAK Development Inc. of Seymour will cost an estimated $6.2 million, which will be divided between Jackson and Jennings counties.

Jackson County is issuing bonds to pay for the center. That will be paid back over a 20-year period.

Jennings County will make two $75,000 payments each year for the next 20 years as its share of the cost.

In exchange, Jennings County will be able to send inmates to the center up to a third of its capacity of 150.

Construction is expected to take about six months. Once completed, the 24,420-square-foot facility will begin housing inmates, both male and female.

Jackson County will fund its part of the two-thirds of construction costs through income and property tax revenues.

Although some property tax revenue will be used, the project will be tax neutral and will not increase tax rates. That’s because the county will make the final payment on the bonds used to finance courthouse and courthouse annex renovations in the early 2000s in December 2021.

The cost of operating the work release center, including staffing, will be paid by those using it, who will be paying $20 daily. Additionally, the inmates will have to pay for their own food and other personal items, such as toilet paper and laundry.

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