Back on the Right Track

Successful Self Direction program working at Howard County jail, officials say


Kokomo Tribune, December 14, 2005

Changing the thinking patterns of criminal offenders is one of the keys to reducing crime.

That’s the thinking behind Successful Self Direction, a rehabilitation program for youth and adult offenders at the Howard County Criminal Justice Center.

Former Kokomo attorney Scott Kinsey heads up the nonprofit program aimed at significantly reducing the crime problem in the community.

Kinsey, a son of former Judge Robert J. Kinsey, along with the program’s mastermind, Doug McAdam, formerly of Nebraska, began teaching the concept, which centers around identifying and dealing with reality.

Kinsey met McAdam in Nebraska and thought he could help local offenders get their lives back on track and stay out of trouble.

“I think this program (Successful Self Direction) can significantly reduce the crime problem,” McAdam said.

The concept, which began in 2000, is among several rehab and treatment programs at the jail, and is getting high praise from not only judges, but inmates who have gone through the self-help program.

“I personally feel it is a good program and should be acknowledged for what it is,” said Matthew A. Dotterer, an inmate at the Howard County jail.

“The teachers are people who care and are kind enough to take time from their lives to help direct other people in the right direction.”

Dotterer was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in October 2004 and sentenced to serve one year in jail and two years of supervised probation.

As part of his sentence, he was ordered by Superior Court 2 Judge Stephen Jessup to complete the SSD classes.

Besides making the right decisions or being on the higher level, the program deals with alcohol and drug abuse in the same way as thinking about your actions before reacting, which has helped Dotterer.

“It helps you to think before you act and make wiser decisions,” Dotterer said.

“It’s a program that can help the people who are willing to apply the concepts it offers. In my honest opinion, if more people would give it the chance it deserves and be more open minded to it, then I think they would see that it can and will make a difference,” said Dotterer.

Judge Jessup often sentences offenders to the program and believes it’s a positive step toward rehabilitation. “It is in some cases,” Jessup said. “And I feel the people running it are very dedicated.”

CLASSMATES: Douglas McAdam, right, talks with inmates as part of the Successful Self Direction program at the Howard County Criminal Justice Center.
Kokomo Tribune photo by Tim Bath.

The judge said he has received letters from former inmates expressing thanks for sending them through the program.

“One kid came out of prison and volunteered to work with them while he was on probation,” Jessup recalled. “I’m real proud of this kid.”

Inmates voluntarily attend a two-hour class at the jail.

McAdam estimated about 125 inmates go through the program every year, but some are transferred to a state prison and never complete the program.

Classes also are taught to offenders who are court-ordered to undergo them as a condition of their probation.

Kinsey said he would like to expand the class to include everyone, not just those in trouble with the law.

The concept also is being offered to troubled youth, families and young parents, he said.

Kinsey and McAdam stress the concept of thinking about how to deal with different situations in life and how to achieve happiness and success through those reactions.

“Think about what you’re doing before you do it,” McAdam said. “Your thinking power can make a difference.”

go to SSD, Inc. home page

Page last updated: Feb. 4, 2006