JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s office is becoming the first law enforcement agency in New York to take on a new program aimed at rehabilitating inmates.

It’s called I.G.N.I.T.E., and it was introduced Tuesday morning in Jamestown. I.G.N.I.T.E., which is being implemented in coordination with the National Sheriff’s Association, stands for:

  • Inmate
  • Growth
  • Naturally and
  • Intentionally
  • Through
  • Education

New York is the 10th state to take on the I.G.N.I.T.E. program after it was first started in Genesee County, Michigan.

According to the program, “Recidivism rates in the U.S. are at an all-time high.”

Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone believes the implementation of I.G.N.I.T.E. will have a positive impact on inmates and the community. Through it, incarcerated individuals will not only learn job skills, but foster life skills like communication and anger management.

Opportunities for incarcerated individuals include literacy and vocational training, as well as GED prep.

Dorian Johnson, a Buffalo native who serves as a program director with Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Sheriff Garry McFadden, said “Over 95 percent will be released at some point. If you let them out the same way they came in, at best, they will repeat the same behavior.”

“Many ex-offenders have limited education and struggle finding employment,” the I.G.N.I.T.E. website says.

The hope is through I.G.N.I.T.E., Chautauqua County can help break the cycle of imprisonment for people who have been there. The sheriffs who spoke during Tuesday’s announcement said they want to help them become productive members of society who won’t repeat past mistakes.

Creating an environment of rehabilitation and forgiveness, where those who are incarcerated are treated as people and not just criminals, is important, the sheriffs said.

“We believe that every individual has the capacity for change,” Quattrone said.

The success of the program will be measured by individuals’ ability to integrate into society.

Quattrone says “there is really no added cost,” with plans to utilize instructors at the jail and partner with members of the community.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.