Leaving jail can be harder than getting into jail, but the Integrated Reentry and Correctional Support (IRACS) program may become that lifeline of support for inmates when they leave the Kosciusko County Jail and reenter society.
But it’s going to take the whole community for it to be successful, if the county is selected for the program.
Jayme Whitaker, vice president of forensic service for Mental Health America of Indiana, helped create the IRACS program. He explained how it began and how it worked at a community meeting Wednesday at Palette in Warsaw.
“We’ve been in talks here with the sheriff and other great leaders in the community, and our hope is that we can get the program launched here in this community,” he said.
Whitaker himself has been in long-term recovery. He’s been working the field as a peer for the last 19 years. He spent time incarcerated, having gone to prison at age 15.
“But the great thing is, in my early 30s, I began to realize that life didn’t have to be that way. And I was able to be offered that opportunities because I had the right people in my life who gave me the right opportunities, who believed I could be a totally different person than what I had always been, and stood in the gap for me until I found that person. And then they supported me in figuring out how to give back,” he said.
Once a person is in recovery, how they stay in recovery is they have to find a way to give it back, he said. “It’s really, really important. It’s part of the process.”
He said programs like IRACS are not only essential to help other people who are still struggling and who are “still down in it,” but also to help people who have found their way out to stay out.