Program aims to help recovering addicts and relieve space in parish jail

ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — In the midst of the ongoing issue of overcrowding in the St. Landry parish jail, the second chance program aims to help drug related offenders avoid jailtime and get much needed help on the road to recovery.

Jessie Bellard, St. Landry Parish president, says they currently face overcrowding at the parish jail.

“We have 277 in our jail today. We’re over capacity by 30 to 35,” said Bellard.

Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said overcapacity at the jail causes them to have to send inmates to other facilities.

“If my jail is at capacity, we’re mandated to send these inmates to another facility in another parish,” said Guidroz.

Initially beginning in the summer of 2022, the second chance program has continued to grow each year as the program’s transitional specialist Danielle Howell says inmates are made aware of the program and can seek rehabilitation rather than continue facing jail time.

“Once a person gets to second chance, they’re approved by the district attorney or our judges, they enter into an individualized treatment plan. We send them to places like Woodlake Addiction Center, where they do almost a year of substance abuse treatment,” said Howell.

With space constantly reaching capacity in the jail, Howell the program has seen success in not only clearing space but also avoiding repeat offences.

“We’ve had about 180 total participants. We’ve had 29 participants complete the program so far, and their charges were actually dismissed by the district attorney’s office,” said Howell.

One of the programs participants, Danielle Leger, says the second chance program has changed her life.

“They gave me a second chance at life. I have a relationship with my family I never thought I’d have. I’m able to be a mother, I’m able to handle situations. It’s completely changed my life for the better,” said Leger.

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As the program continues to evolve, those involved look forward to helping the issue of overcrowding while also making a difference in the lives of those who need help.

“I think this program needs to continue as long as it can, because it doesn’t just change lives, it saves lives,” said Leger.

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