WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTHI) – A lockup based program at the Daviess County Jail in Washington, Ind. is promoting healthy lifestyles beyond an inmates’ sentence.
The program, which starts in jail, helps inmates cope with battling addiction and persuasion after they are released back into society. WANE’s sister station WTHI was allowed a unique media opportunity to visit the meeting and interact with the inmates taking part in the program.
RARE, which stands for Resisting Addictions with Recovery and Education, was the original idea of Daviess County Jerry Harbstreit. Harbstreit, confident in his program, allowed WTHI to interview several inmates taking part in the recovery process.
Each Tuesday and Thursday night the inmates meet in a briefing room on the security center’s top floor. The event is similar to a church service; a group leader speaks, with a residual theme revolving around the study of Christianity.
However, the floor is also opened to inmates who want to talk about their addiction struggles.
There are no jail bars. The inmates are not restrained. Only one deputy stands guard at the door between the jail’s cells and the free World.
But, surrounded by family, and a massive support group of volunteers, the inmates in this program have no intentions of trying to escape.
Among the inmates taking part in the RARE Program is Heaven Berry. Berry’s name has made Southern Indiana headlines in recent months for her role in the connection to the shooting death of a 17-year-old.
While Berry was not charged with murder, at the time of this story, Berry was facing charges connected to the incident.
One man, Logan Evans had been sentenced one week earlier, to 45 years in prison as a part plea deal for entering a guilty plea to murder charges.
Earlier this week, two more men were formally charged and pleaded not guilty in the incident. Court documents allege Donal Krutchen and Craig Streete, who were friends of Devan Burris, accompanied him alongside to a drug deal gone wrong.
Still though, the corresponding action of that crime, has led Berry to the RARE program.
“I started getting hooked on drugs at the age of 12,” said Berry. “All in all, it’s probably by the Grace of God that I’m alive today.”
VIDEO | Full interview with Heaven Berry
At the Thursday evening meetings, the inmates family members are allowed to attend the service. According to the program organizers this helps lighten the atmosphere and encourages families to take part in their loved ones recovery process.
No one knew that story better than an inmate who only called himself John.
“I was using meth … I started using when I was in junior high, I’m 47 years old now,” said the inmate. “About a year before I got arrested, they [John's kids] wanted to move out, cause they could see me changing.”
John credits the program for helping him mend ties with his mother and kids. “It ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me, getting arrested.” At Thursday’s meeting John, who sat in the front row, was accompanied by two guests.
“Something told me to go to this church class,” said John.
John says he hadn’t talked to his mom in more than two years, but after enrolling in the program, “My mom came up here at 9:00 AM the next morning,” he said. “I feel happy in jail, I mean a peace of mind.”
Brian Patterson knows the program all too well.
He told WTHI, Harbstreit asked him to be the group leader and facilitator while he was on work release at the Daviess County Jail. Patterson says his history is long marred in troubles of drug addiction and criminal charges.
“I was arrested on armed robbery charges, I think I had 14 different felony counts,” said Patterson.
He’s since been released from jail, but continues to attend the meetings, only now, as a leader.
“It’s kind of overwhelming sometimes, I think but, God can do some amazing things,” said Patterson. “It’s one of those moments you really realize that drugs don’t have power over you anymore”