Delaware County Sheriff cutting crime from the inside out

Program works with inmates to cut down on crime
LINC Program

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office appears to be reducing crime in the community by working from the inside out. Specifically, identifying inmates at the Delaware County Jail who are struggling with mental illness and/or drug addiction, and launching a full-scale intervention that will hopefully send the inmates down a new, better path.

Kassandra Neff, Criminal Justice Programs Coordinator, said LINC, or Lives In Need Of Connection, is about building lasting relationships with inmates who need far more than a dose of justice.

"We know that people are really vulnerable the day that they get out. So we wrap around them with support services, we walk that journey with them," said Neff. "They don't fall off the edge of the earth when they get out of jail. That's really where their journey begins and we recognize that."

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The number of success stories is growing. Amy, a recovering alcoholic battling anxiety and bipolar disorder, is now living at Unity House, a sober recovery house in Delaware. Amy says alcoholism nearly destroyed her life.

"You can sit there crying, knowing what you're throwing away, and keep drinking. And that's what I did," said Amy.

She eventually wound up behind bars at the Delaware County Jail where she linked up with LINC, and began turning her life around.

Amy is sober, attending counseling, participating in yoga, and volunteering at the church across the street. Amy says her roommates at the Unity House feel like family.

"Here, I know people love me," said Amy.

Amy's renewed hope for the future is mimicked by another former Delaware County Jail inmate names Charles, who told us proudly he made a living driving big rigs.

"I've got that gypsy soul. I'm a driver," said Charles.

Crime Tracker 10 first met Charles inside the jail where he was taking part in group counseling for drug addicts, one of the many LINC services offered in jail. He spoke candidly about his roller-coaster battler with drug addiction.

"I've been up that mountain, of building everything back and losing it. This is my sixth time," said Charles.

Today, Charles is a free man, and still receiving support from LINC. He is expected to continue drug counseling with the same counselor he worked with inside the jail.

"We're meeting them with relationships," said Neff.

It's working. Delaware County inmates participating in LINC have a 20-percent recidivism rate. In other words, two out of 10 inmates are committing a new crime when they get out and coming back to jail.

Compare that number to the general jail population where the recidivism rate is 56 percent.

Charles said he plans to fight tooth and nail to be part of LINC's success story. He said he has no choice but to keep trying.

"Keep on trucking," he said with tears in his eyes.