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"The ultimate thing is how do you force somebody to get help," Williams said. "Some people say they prefer to be in jail because they get food and clothing."
Barnes said that many of the people in his jails, such as some drug dealers, don't want help.
"They feel like they're beating the system," he said. "They're making good money. For some of these young kids it's a rite of passage. Jail gives you street cred."
The committee members also spoke about the limitations of transforming the lives of these people given that they are in the jail an average of 20 days at a time.
There was much consent on the committee that the first step should be identifying the main causes of the problem and the specific issues facing the inmates and others repeatedly caught up in the courts.
Williams said, "The sheriff had a great idea – let's find out who we're talking about."
The committee plans to begin compiling information on the people in the county's jail system, support services and court programs, and meet on coming Friday afternoons to establish a framework for addressing the issues and reducing recidivism.
It was clear that just getting many of the important people in the same room talking was already reaping benefits. After Seymour spoke about the array of services offered at the Interactive Resources Center that opened about two years ago, Casey said she had learned something.
"I didn't know what ya'll did," Casey said. "But it sounds like ya'll could have been a resource for us for the past two years."
Gibson said, when asked after the meeting, that he wasn't sure why Coleman, his co-chair, wasn't at the meeting.