For some Cabell County home incarceration inmates, a second chance means trading the jail house for the dog house at Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter.
According to Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, 130 inmates have been given the opportunity for home incarceration, rather than sitting in jail. Only certain inmates qualify for the program, based on factors including an interview process, background check, and judge’s recommendation. Instead of solely staying at home, though, some inmates have started using their time to lend a helping hand at the animal shelter.
“It makes me feel good,” said Jason Sadler, a home incarceration inmate who volunteers at the shelter. “I sleep a little bit better, if that makes any sense, when I go home, just knowing these guys got a lot of love. Some of them have been mistreated and they really need it.”
The program is completely voluntary for the inmates, and the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office provides them transportation from their houses to the shelter.
With the shelter currently understaffed and underfunded, their assistance is much-needed.
“We just need help,” said Courtney Proctor Cross, executive director of the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter. “If we’re going to take really great care of the animals and help them get the exercise, attention and socialization that they need, then it’s just really beneficial when we have people who will come and help with that.”
Not only does it help the animals, the inmates who volunteer say it gives new meaning to their lives.
“The reason for alternative sentencing is to make you whole and to be back in productive society,” said Cynthia Carrico, a home incarceration inmate and volunteer. “Plus it gives you a sense of worth. Maybe where you’ve been, it kind of depleted everything from you and being out here, it kind of lifts your mood and makes you stay on the right side.”
The home incarceration program is beneficial to Cabell County taxpayers, as well. The county has recently struggled with mounting jail bills. To reduce costs, Sheriff Zerkle said he set a goal to increase the number of home incarceration inmates. Since then, the program has jumped from 100 to 130 people. For each person that is on home confinement, rather than at Western Regional Jail, it saves the county $48 per day in jail fees, according to Sheriff Zerkle. For all 130 people, that adds up to $2,277,600 per year.
The home confinement program also volunteers elsewhere around the community, including at senior centers and the Ronald McDonald House, and by picking up trash around the county.