Two women stood in the chilly weather Wednesday next to the Justice Building at the corner of Indiana and Lake streets hoping to bring attention to a cause that hits close to home for them.

One bright neon yellow sign, held by Kay Hardy, said “Rehabilitate Addiction Don’t Incarcerate It,” while the second, held by Hardy’s daughter Shanna Page, said “Rehabilitate Not Incarcerate.”

Hardy said they were out there “because there is such a need for rehabilitation in the area and there’s nothing out there. I mean, there’s no inpatient and that’s what’s needed. Everybody’s been incarcerated, but they just keep leaving them back out on the streets and it’s not helping anyone.”

But according to jail officials, there are several efforts available through the court system and the jail.

Before deciding to stand out on the sidewalk with the signs, Hardy said she thought about it for a long time. “It was just a feeling of something that I knew I had to do in my heart of hearts. It’s something I had to do,” she said.

She said it wasn’t going to be a one-time thing as she was planning to be out with signs to bring attention to the matter “off and on.”

Page said they were dealing with her daughter’s addiction. “Just going through the court systems and it’s a constant. … You’re always in the court system. There’s really no solid help. It’s just sad. I just wish there was more. I don’t think being locked up for years and years is the answer,” she said.

Hardy said Wednesday’s protest was a start. “Hopefully, we can get people together to bring up more issues on how we can help and how we can make a difference,” she said.

Page said the response they’ve received to their signs was positive.

“We’ve actually had a lot of people agree,” Page said. She said she thought they might get heckled, but instead they received high-fives and thank-you’s.

“Maybe some higher-ups will see this and maybe we can think of ways to help people with drug addictions here and free up some of the jail space because a lot of them are in (jail) for drugs,” Page said.

She said she’s heard of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department offering shots for heroin addicts, and she thought that was great if they were doing that because she’s heard it has a great positive result, but wasn’t aware of any other addiction programs in the county jail.

Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Jail Commander Lt. Mike Mulligan said those shots for heroin addicts - Vivitrol - have not been implemented.

“We attempted to but we haven’t had anybody that wanted to,” said KCSD Capt. Chris McKeand. “The one person that initially advised they wanted to do it wouldn’t follow through with it.”

Mulligan said they can’t make anyone do that. “They have to want to do it,” he said.

McKeand said Vivitrol is a shot that makes heroin “null and void. You won’t get the effects of the drug.” He said it involves after-care and once a person gets the shot and is released from jail, they then have to go through a service provider to continue the maintenance for the shots.

“Generally, once they go on the shots, they do well. It’s when they don’t follow through and get shot No. 3 or shot No. 4 where they relapse and go back on the drug. But that is something we tried to start. It’s the inmates themselves that are not wanting to go on it. They want to go back out and use the drugs,” McKeand said.

Page said, “You’ve got to help the people in your community. You’ve got to invest in your people. We love our kids. We don’t want to see any more deaths. Heroin is too common. That’s all you see now is heroin and meth in our jails and it’s just too disheartening. We need help.”

She wanted to make it clear that she understands that doing drugs is illegal and that she’s not saying that people shouldn’t pay for breaking the law, but she said there’s a “constant, revolving door” with the same people being arrested over and over.

“What they’re doing is not working. It’s just not working,” Hardy said.

Page said that while a person is in jail, something needs to be done to help them.

“They want help, too. They do want help. No one wants to be an addict. They want help, also. But it’s just not the right help (they’re getting),” Hardy said, adding that society is behind in helping those in jail with addiction.

Mulligan said there’s a lot of help for people battling addiction while they’re in the county jail.

“We offer (Narcotics Anonymous), (Alcoholics Anonymous). We also offer the new program we just launched about two weeks ago, JCAP, a chemical addiction program. That’s a pretty intense program. That’s a 90-day program. We also have Smart Recovery. Bible study,” Mulligan said.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill visited the jail on Aug. 22 to announce the county would receive an $87,800 grant from the Indiana Drug Enforcement Association to establish JCAP (Jail Chemical Addiction Program) through a contract with the Bowen Center.

In his remarks, Hill said, “The best correctional models are those that not only penalize offenders for their crimes, but also help to improve their character by addressing social, emotional, spiritual, educational and family issues through targeted services.”

Hill said that by some estimates, the proportion of the incarcerated population with substance abuse issues hovers around 80 percent. “Targeting inmate populations therefore represents one of the best methods of reaching drug users in need of services the most,” he said.

In effective JCAP programs, participants are separated from others in the jail population and are expected to spend at least 90 days in cognitive, behavioral therapy. Master-level social workers conduct group and individual counseling.

At the Aug. 22 press conference, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Hampton said the aim of JCAP was to alter habits, specifically of those known to struggle with substance abuse. The program focuses on moderate, high-risk offenders who are chemically dependant. No serious violent offenders, no major drug dealers and/or sex offenders are admitted into the program. JCAP is an entirely volunteer program, with 90 days minimum and no promise of leniency by the courts at sentencing even if the program is completed successfully.

Mulligan said some people may not be aware of all the addiction assistance programs the county jail does offer.

“Like the NA. I’ve talked to people that work on the NA. They go and ask about attending the NA and it’s the inmates that no longer want to attend. It’s not something we can make them do. It’s something they have to want to go participate in and it’s not something they’re wanting to participate in. That’s a life choice then the inmates are making. We’re not making that choice for them. It’s a participation problem more than it is being offered,” McKeand said.

Mulligan said there’s people in the jail frequently to help prisoners, “from pastors to All Things New to Community Corrections, Drug Court, Life Skills, Parenting, all that stuff comes in. That’s, if not weekly, at least monthly. But there’s somebody in here everyday (on some sort of program), minus the weekends. I would say five days a week, something’s available.”

McKeand said the jail is the “best atmosphere to get clean because they’re confined. It’s all choice. They have to decide that’s what they want.”