Voluntary program is available in Otter Tail County

Contributed photo
The Community Re-Entry Program is designed to have services in place upon discharge from the detention center. The program’s logo depicts hands working in lock-step with one another.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Leaving county jail, after a person’s incarceration is completed, can be a scary time for an individual. 

A re-entry program in Otter Tail County is designed to have services in place upon discharge from the detention center. County social workers are available to assist individuals be successful as they transition back into the community.

“Our Community Re-Entry Program is a voluntary program,” said County Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom to the five members of the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners on July 25.

Upon leaving the county jail, a person might be homeless, unemployed, have no driver’s license, be struggling with mental health issues, have substance use problems or be facing other issues.

The Community Re-Entry Program will conduct a screening with the individual to identify needs.

“Referrals can be made on behalf of the individual and resources can be provided,” Sjostrom added. “This program provides a great opportunity for success and self-sufficiency.”

Resources include housing, mental health assistance, financial help, health care assistance and meeting other needs. 

“Re-entry social workers are knowledgeable of the resources within the communities in Otter Tail County,” Sjostrom said. “They can help individuals just released from jail with providers in our area who can provide the needed services.”

This program started in 2021 as a joint effort by county human services and the county sheriff department in Otter Tail County. The key to success is limiting the number of repeat offenders.

“It’s not easy to change a pattern of behavior,” Sjostrom said, “but it’s possible. That’s up to the individual. Re-entry planning and coordination can assist people with meeting individual goals.”

Those currently in jail who would like assistance can ask to speak to a county social worker. People making referrals on behalf of individuals can contact a Community Re-Entry social worker by calling 218-998-8286.