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  • Writer's pictureChris Cotton

Onward and Upward

The bad thing about being a nonprofit which operates at the pleasure of an elected official is that, well, we operate at the pleasure of an elected official. It's primarily why Tammy and I kept our opinions to ourselves and didn't weigh-in on issues during the primary and general elections for Kosciusko County Sheriff. Clearly not everyone took that approach and frankly our silence was perceived as support for one candidate. That's unfortunate because we had a great relationship with outgoing Sheriff Dukes and his administration. It was under his watch that LITE was launched, began to offer classes, started creating reentry plans for inmates, and built our volunteer base. We're forever grateful to Kyle Dukes for allowing us to do that.

After the primary not a lot changed for us honestly. Incoming Sheriff, Jim Smith, is an old friend of ours. So, it appeared to us there would be a seamless transition. At the 11th hour an independent candidate filed to run against Jim. This was fine and not entirely surprising. And again, nothing really changed for us; classes and our work in the Kosciusko County Jail went on as scheduled. Until the results of the general election were made known. Now, I point you back to my opening above.

Our mission is to serve those reentering our community. For what it's worth, 99% of those in KCJ will be back in our community. We want to help them make a smooth transition. We want to communicate with their loved ones and support systems. We want to ensure we remove as many hurdles as possible which lead to recidivism and keep those who have reentered the community out here in the community. That isn't political and shouldn't depend on elections to ensure ongoing operations.

It's why we communicated with both Republican candidates openly and honestly during the primary season. Each of them reached out to us to their credit. During the general election only Jim Smith bothered to communicate with us and ask us questions. He clearly communicated LITE would continue to be a key part of KCJ in his administration. The unknown is what led us to support Sheriff Elect Smith.

My hope is we can install programs and processes which prove so vital to the community, the Jail Commander, the Jail staff, and our reentering individuals as to overcome politics in the future. Is that possible?

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