Pulaski County Sheriff Wants to Add Work Release Facility to Justice Center

The Pulaski County Justice Center may get a dedicated work release facility, under a proposal from Sheriff Jeff Richwine. He discussed the idea with the county commissioners last week.

The sheriff said that if the documents that are currently stored in the Justice Center basement could be digitized or moved to the former Winamac Masonic Lodge, the basement could accommodate 20 to 25 inmates on work release. “If we could do the programs that they do in Logansport here, then our guys, the people up here on work release, could get the DOC programming and all the stuff that would help them,” he said.

Richwine said he’s discussed the idea with Cass-Pulaski Community Corrections Director Dave Wegner, and he mentioned that grant funding may be available to help create the work release center. The sheriff said he’s also talked with the county’s two judges, the maintenance supervisor, and the county council.

Jail volunteer Dr. Ed Hollenberg had previously suggested turning the basement into a wood shop, where inmates could make plaques with inspirational sayings. Richwine said he may have found another space for that, “With the historical society moving out of the Quonset hut, [Maintenance Supervisor] Jeff Johnston said that he could probably move his office to the Quonset hut, which would open up that little garage there beside our building, which would be perfect for what Dr. Hollenberg wants to do with some woodworking equipment.”

Dr. Hollenberg showed the commissioners a couple examples of plaques that inmates could make. The goal is not only to teach them basic woodworking skills, but also to “change their minds” with the inspirational sayings. “That’s a hard job, to change attitudes, and having them work with the words and putting them on wood, just like we’re doing in the classes,” Hollenberg said. “They have a workbook in the class, and they’re really working on that, trying to change their attitudes.”

The idea is still in its early stages, and Richwine isn’t asking county officials to take any action yet. Still, Commissioner Mike McClure felt it was a good idea and that it was worth moving forward.