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S.H.I.N.E Program may soon come to Duncan

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO)- A program that helps students and saves cities money by utilizing inmate workers serving time for low-level offenses could soon come to Duncan.

The program is called S.H.I.N.E, which stands for Start Helping Impacted Neighborhoods Everywhere.

The program was started in Oklahoma County. It encourages both high school and college students to volunteer in their community and allows them to build up their resume.

The program also cuts the jail population down. It has already saved Oklahoma County about a million dollars a year.

Duncan Chamber of Commerce Community Development Director, Nate Schacht first heard about the program from Representative Marcus McEntire. Schacht said the program is in the early stages. Schacht already talked to the leaders of 60 businesses and non-profits organizations in Duncan and hopes S.H.I.N.E will be up and running sometime this year.

According to the S.H.I.N.E website, it is one of the most innovative and active nonprofits programs in the state of Oklahoma. It teaches teens the importance of community service and giving back. If the program is implemented in Duncan, The Chamber of Commerce Community Development Director, Nate Schacht said it will bring many benefits.

"I found research that says students that volunteer have higher test scores in Math, Science and English. They also see lower drop out rates, both huge positives for the community. In addition to that being active as a volunteer once they graduate from high school or college they can put that on a resume," Schacht said.

But students wouldn't be the only ones walking away with something they gained from S.H.I.N.E. It would provide benefits to the county by cutting down on the jail population and saving money.  It can also benefit those serving time in jail for misdemeanors.

"Some benefits to that is roughly a cost saving of $40 dollars per inmate, per day. Also you have the reduced cost of maintaining the health care portion of some one that is serving time that is incarcerated. We also find that those individuals that do community service as oppose to jail time can keep their job if they are employed and they can continue to spend time with their family," Schacht said.

Schacht is speaking with officials in the Judicial System in Stephens County and the City of Duncan to make the idea a reality for inmates to volunteer in the community an agreement.

If the program moves forward in Duncan Schacht said he won't take the credit.

"I really don't want to take any. It's a community project, it's a means for our community to move forward and grow stronger and better. Yes I'm helping spear head this and get it started but it really is a reflection of the community and that's what we have to remember it's the community that wants this, its the community that needs this and it's the community that's doing this," Schacht said.

Schacht said the next step is to contact non-profit organizations and businesses in Duncan that need volunteers and find out how S.H.I.N.E can help them.

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