This week, Sheriff John Cottle attended the 48th Annual Missouri Association of Counties annual meeting in Osage Beach after learning he was nominated and receive a government partnership award. Sheriff Cottle competed with 114 other Missouri County nominations, which of only two people were selected for the 2019 award.
The award recognizes Sheriff John Cottle for his innovative efforts to service the people of Lincoln County and implementing the Inmate Workforce Development Re-entry program. This program is designed to help better the lives of incarcerated inmates by learning much needed jobs skills, earn Department of Labor apprenticeship certification and help inmates gain meaningful employment upon release.
“The high cost of recidivism is expensive for county taxpayers,” said Sheriff John Cottle. “The traditional method of housing local inmates does little for the people of Lincoln County.” Sheriff Cottle believes by improving work skills along with developing professional and personal skills help prepare offenders for good jobs when released.
“Many inmates walk out of jail heading down the same path of unemployment or underemployment. The skills they are learning by sitting around, doing nothing all day fail to increase their chances for a stable life. So we are working to change this at the local level.”
Sheriff Cottle explained such programs are found in State prisons and not in local county jails.
“This program is not just limited to inmates. Our new training facility has a separate inmate and community training area. Lincoln County citizens who feel underemployed in their current job can enter into the same training and receive the same higher paying jobs with benefits FOR FREE! This is a huge win for every worker in Lincoln County.”
The funding for the re-entry program comes through the Missouri’s Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a pass through grant received by State Technical College of Missouri. Inmates who complete the program are eligible for good paying jobs with benefits. Indirect benefit is ex-offenders are able to pay their child support, stay off food stamps and other government assistance programs.