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Indiana jails make changes as female inmates increase

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Two southern Indiana jails that are facing surges in their female inmate populations from the opioid abuse crisis have implemented special classes and programs in response to the jails’ shifting needs.

Floyd County jail’s average daily female population was 59 inmates in 2017, compared with 35 in 2007, The News and Tribune reported. The Clark County Jail’s daily female population averaged 131 in 2017, more than double from 56 in 2007.

The growing number of women in the jails brings challenges to spacing and increased health costs associated with women, especially pregnant inmates, jail officials said.

The Clark County Jail sought to offer the growing population more resources, creating three programs in 2016: a support group for victims of assault, a pregnancy class and a class to help women express themselves through writing.

“The more tools you can give an inmate, especially a female inmate, hopefully (means) they won’t return to jail and that’s what’s best for the family,” Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said.

The Floyd County Jail created a new program this year to help female inmates address addiction issues. The program brings together 16 inmates who are committed to focusing on themselves and supporting one another.

“It teaches you how to change your thinking, which is where we all mess up,” said Heather Goff, who’s been in the program for eight months. “Since I’ve been locked up, I’ve had time to reflect on where I went wrong and recognize how not to do it again.”

Women in the program have more freedoms and responsibility than other inmates. They also have access to specialized classes, such as yoga.

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