‘We all win when you win’

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Marion County Jailer Barry Brady and his staff are trying to change the face of incarceration

By Stevie Lowery

Barbara Victoria has watched three of her friends lose their sons to drug addiction this year. One of them died just three weeks ago.
“I had to go up and put my hand on this young man’s heart who was laying in his casket,” she said. “As a mother, I needed to touch him. It was so profound to me. The people we’re losing are all our sons and daughters. Every one of them is a loss for us.”
But, every man and woman who manages to fight, dig and crawl their way out of the depths of addiction is a reason to celebrate, according to Victoria.
Her son is one of them.
She proudly watched her son, Gerard Foote, and 11 other men graduate from the R.E.A.C.H. program at the Marion County Detention Center Friday morning. R.E.A.C.H. is an acronym for “Reentering American Communities with Hope.” The 24-week program not only attempts to help inmates overcome addiction, but also learn how to move on with their lives once they are released from jail. The program helps them with jobs skills, and assists them in finding employment, reconnecting with their families and even finding living arrangements for them once they’re released, if necessary.
“I’ve never seen this kind of program in a correctional facility. It is extraordinary,” Victoria said.
Before Victoria’s son and his fellow inmates, rather “clients,” which is what they are referred to at M.C.D.C., received their certificates for completing the program Friday morning, she took the opportunity to speak directly to them.
“Everyone who succeeds is a success for us. We all win when you win,” she said. “Everything we go through – every challenge that we are delivered – there’s a gift. There are gifts all over this room. There’s 12 sitting at these tables.”
Victoria’s son has been at M.C.D.C. since July 12, 2016, and he said he looks forward to using what he’s learned there to help others in the future. During Friday morning’s ceremony, he shared a parable of a man, suffering from drug addiction, who fell into a hole and couldn’t get out.
The parable goes something like this.
A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But, the addict could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in.
A doctor walked by. The addict said, “Help! I can’t get out!” The doctor gave him some drugs and said, “Take this. It will relieve the pain.” The addict said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole.
A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the addict’s cries for help. He stopped and asked, ”How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the addict talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week. The addict thanked him, but he was still in the hole.
A priest came by. The addict called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.” He got down on his knees and prayed for the addict, then he left. The addict was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole.
A recovering addict happened to be passing by. The addict cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” Right away the recovering addict jumped down in the hole with him. The addict said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here!” But the recovering addict said, “Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know how to get out.”
Foote said he wants to be the man that jumps in the hole. He wants to help others, and the programs he’s been able to participate in at M.C.D.C. have given him a chance to reflect on himself and analyze what brought him to jail in the first place and how he can prevent coming back.
“We’re the guys that can help others,” he said, speaking to the 11 other R.E.A.C.H. program graduates. “That’s what I look forward to.”
According to Brandon Wilson, administrative program director at M.C.D.C, one of the key components of all of the programs offered at the jail is that he and the jail’s staff truly take time to listen to the inmates. They listen before responding.
“We meet these clients where they are and listen,” Wilson said. “A whole lot of times, our society, we are ready to respond and we don’t listen.”
Wilson pleaded with the R.E.A.C.H. graduates, as well as their family members and community members who were also in attendance during Friday’s graduation ceremony, to stay involved and use their knowledge to help others. Another mistake our society makes, Wilson said, is we don’t get involved until there is a crisis.
“Don’t wait for a loss before you do get involved,” be said. “We don’t want to wait to lose a life before we get involved. We need to get involved now. That’s something I hold true to because I lost that ability. I lost a brother before I got involved.”
Donnie Deacon, who is currently on home incarceration after being released from jail a few weeks ago, was initially kicked out of the R.E.A.C.H. program, but he was allowed to come back.
“This program hasn’t been easy,” Deacon said. “It’s not easy to try and change everything that you’ve been used to doing for so long.”
But, he has hope.
“Hope is a big thing for me,” he said. “To me, it means ‘Hold On Pain Ends.’ I have put my family and myself through a lot of pain.”
But, he’s been sober since Dec. 2, 2015, and he looks forward to the day he’s no longer on home incarceration and can take his children places and do the things he’s been unable to do while addicted to drugs and in jail.
Jeffrey Young, a R.E.A.C.H. program graduate, was also released from jail recently, and said making his children happy, instead of getting high, is now his focus.
“I got young kids and I was getting high during most of their lives,” he said. “I want to spend the rest of my life giving back to them. They deserve the best from their father.”


‘We have an obligation to do the right thing.
And the right thing is to help each other.’

State Senator Jimmy Higdon, who attended Friday’s graduation ceremony, told all of the program participants that they were very lucky to be able to serve their time at M.C.D.C.
“Jailer Barry Brady and his staff are very dedicated to making sure you all receive lessons and programs that will help you when you get out and help you not come back,” he said. “There aren’t many jails like this facility here. There aren’t many that care like Jailer Brady and his staff. MCDC is a role model for jails across the state. This is a special place.”
Brady agreed.
“Not all jails are created equal,” he said. “Marion County has been one of the instruments of trying to change the paradigm of what we’re doing with incarceration. We have an obligation to do the right thing. And the right thing is to help each other.”
Simply locking people up and giving them “three hots and a cot” doesn’t work, Brady said. And, while treatment in jail isn’t a “fix,” it has proven to be effective. People who complete treatment while incarcerated are less likely to reoffend, Brady said.
“We haven’t fixed anyone in here. It’s up to them,” he said. “The fight is on. We hope we educate people to fight it. If we can help, that’s our obligation as beings, to help others move forward. I just hope that someday you pay it forward.”
Kenny Eldridge, who was released from M.C.D.C. on April 21, is doing just that.
He returned to the jail on Friday to share his story with the R.E.A.C.H. graduates.
“The chaos in my life started when I got a 19-year prison sentence for trafficking heroin at the age of 23,” he said. “Two years ago, I met Jesus Christ in a jail cell and my whole life changed. I started praying for something better.”
Eldridge was given the opportunity to serve his time at M.C.D.C., and was immediately asked if he wanted to participate in the Substance Abuse Program. He completed the program, and became a mentor for other inmates.
Thankfully, he was granted early release from jail and was able to spend nine days with his father before he suddenly passed away.
“He passed away on Monday, May 1, at 8 a.m. I wasn’t supposed to be released until Monday, May 1, at 8 a.m., so I was given that opportunity to be able to spend nine days with my dad,” Eldridge said.
Since being released, he’s been staying at a transitional house in Springfield, and has a job making $18 an hour.
“That doesn’t happen everyday. But, it happened because of the resources that I found in here,” Eldridge said.
While incarcerated at M.C.D.C., Eldridge found out he has a 5-year-old daughter. On June 22, he was able to visit with her for the first time. He will be filing for custody in September.
“It seems surreal when you’re sitting in these seats,” Eldridge said, referring to the 12 inmates sitting around the room. “You’re still wondering, is there a life on the other side of here?”
He’s proof, there is.

Programs at the Marion County Detention Center
- AA / NA – Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.
- Kentucky Career Center
- GED – General Education Degree
- NCRC – National Career Readiness Certificate
- EOC – Educational Opportunity Center
- ALPHA – Addicts Learning Productive Healthy Alternatives
- Men’s Health
- R.E.A.C.H. – Re-Entering American Communities with Hope
- Culinary arts
- Wide array of faith affiliated services
- One-on-one counseling