You don’t expect much good to come from going to jail. But, a revolutionary jail coming to southeastern Ohio may change that. 

The Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville is being transformed into a jail for women offenders with drug addictions. Inmates will be able to go to rehab while serving their time.

“If you have to be there, we want to treat you like a human being. We want to help you,” said Ohio University Executive in Residence Rick Hodges. He is helping lead the charge as part of the Appalachian Recovery Project to come up with a new solution to the drug crisis that has hit the Appalachian region of Ohio especially hard. 

“It’s an opportunity to try something very different and new to combat this problem,” he said.

The abandoned prison, built to keep people locked up, is being transformed into a jail that will help women offenders break free from addiction.

“This is the only one I know of where people are trying to intervene in a jail with folks who are there probably maybe at the lowest part of their lives, who are really motivated to find help and we want to surround them with help,” he said.

Hodges said inmates referred to the jail through drug courts will have access to on-site substance abuse treatment with access to things like counselors, medical treatment and therapy. And, inmates will get help finding housing and job training for when they get out. It’s a holistic approach he said will help more than just the offender.

“Dependency doesn’t just affect the individual, it affects the family, the children, maybe the unborn baby,” said Hodges.

More than 10 million dollars in state and federal grants is funding the project. The question remains: could it be the antidote to the nationwide drug crisis?
“Yes, it is going to work. Absolutely, there’s no reason why it can’t,” he said.

Hodges said another benefit of the new jail is the economic impact it will have on the area. He said it will also hopefully be a savings to taxpayers down the line. The goal is to get offenders clean so they don’t end up back in jail in the future.