America’s county jails can be a challenging environment, both for their inmates, and for those seeking to provide educational and rehabilitative programs. There is a high turnover of inmates, who typically stay only a short time, and who tend to be anxious and preoccupied with their pending court cases.
At Coconino County Jail in central Arizona, the average stay is just one week, though in part that reflects many who only stay overnight; other inmates remain at the jail for many months. Because of these challenges county jails are usually seen simply as staging posts. Rehabilitative programs are given a low priority and inmates spend most of their time watching television, reading, or playing cards. In Coconino County, however, Sheriff Pribil sees this as a wasted opportunity, and he has shown that he’s prepared to do something about it.
Coconino County Jail’s drug treatment program has cast the jail’s general education programs in a less favorable light, and shown them to be in need of improvement. To begin this process, Sheriff Pribil appeared before the Coconino County Supervisors on March 12, 2014 to request approximately $70,000 of additional funds in order to hire an educational coordinator for the jail. Impressed by the success of the Exodus program, the Supervisors unanimously approved.