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With the good news of the number of inmates being low in our county jail, Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger is planning to make use of the free space to keep those numbers down.

Mellinger is planning to use two empty cell blocks for an addiction rehabilitation program, which is a practical and beneficial use of the space.

The jail is likely the only county asset that we should be happy is being underused. However, the additional space should be put to effective use for the county.

It is easy to lose sight of the rehabilitation aspect of incarceration, with some programs being decried as “perks” for prisoners. We must remember that while incarceration is a punishment, we have an interest in seeing that convicted criminals are reformed.

In an ideal world, criminals go to prison and at the end of the sentence productive citizens emerge.

Programs that make former inmates more employable and more functional members of society are key to making that happen.

Such programs will give inmates the tools they need to live life outside of prison and keep recidivism rates low.

“There are some jails around the state with a program and there has been a huge change in the recidivism rates,” Mellinger said.

If these programs have been producing positive results, then let the results speak for themselves.

As incarceration rates are low in the county, we applaud Mellinger for taking steps to see that trend continue.

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