JCAP Series Looks At Transformations Of Program’s Graduates

Jail Chemical Addiction Program graduate Derek Bruner (L) and JCAP Coordinator Courtney Jenkins (R) talk after the JCAP season 2 docuseries premiered Tuesday. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

For those men and women who complete the Jail Chemical Addiction Program in the Kosciusko County Jail, it can be transformative.

And with the program having a 59% success rate over the last three years, according to Sheriff Kyle Dukes, a lot of lives in the community are changing for the better.

Several JCAP graduate stories are told in season 2 of the JCAP docuseries, which premiered Tuesday night to an audience of over 100 people at the Warsaw Community High School Performing Arts Center. Episode 1 of the four-part series – produced by DreamOn Studios – hits the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s YouTube channel at 8 p.m. Sunday, with episodes 2, 3 and 4 debuting each following Sunday. Everyone is being encouraged to share the episodes on all their social media.

During a panel discussion after all four episodes premiered, Scott Greene, master of ceremonies for the event, asked Matt Deuel, co-founder of DreamOn Studios, which produced the docuseries, was what they saw “real.”

“You look at the faces that you saw 5 minutes ago, before and after, and you see – and I’ve gotten to see this now several classes, of these men and women walking into the JCAP block for the first time – and their eyes and their faces and their heads are down, and they’re struggling and they’re nervous and anxious. To then seeing their faces during mock interview day, during graduation day, the look in their eyes is transformation. It’s deep, soul-level transformation. You can’t fake that,” Deuel responded. “For us, telling this story is one of the greatest privileges of our lives. Truly. Of our careers.”

Greene kicked off the premiere by talking about the goodies provided in the swag bag to attendees and the approximately 20-minute episodes. The four episodes were rolled back-to-back, with Greene talking to guests from the episodes on the WCHS PAC stage in between them. He also introduced Dukes.

“On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, thank you, guys, very much for coming out tonight and supporting JCAP. Thank you very much,” Dukes said. “So I want to talk very briefly about JCAP. Fifty-nine percent success rate – 59%! We have 30 local businesses and organizations that come into our jail and teach and mentor and walk that journey with the JCAP residents. We now have a Sheriff’s Office in the state of Tennessee that has the JCAP program because of the success here in Kosciusko County. And lastly, we’re the No. 1 JCAP program in the state of Indiana.”

Greene talked about how important it was that the docuseries gets shared online. “Because that county in Tennessee that now has their own JCAP program, guess how they heard about JCAP. Because someone hopped on social media after the premiere of the very first documentary and they shared it. That doesn’t happen in Tennessee unless we all share it,” he said. “… Until we share it, that’s when this thing goes viral. What would happen if this went viral in our country like it’s gone viral in some of you that will be in this video?”

Episode 1 begins with a recap of the last documentary and JCAP class 9 graduation day on Nov. 11, 2021, but then goes back to six months earlier for the application and selection process for the class. It features interviews with Work Release Director Heather Desenberg and JCAP Coordinator Courtney Jenkins, and ends with flashes of men and women in the program.

Greene, after episode 1 finished, talked about how every great story starts with a hook and how episode 1 offers one. “We’re getting to know some of the personalities, some of the men, some of the women behind this story,” he said. “We want to pause here real quick after episode 1 because it’s important we recognize that the best part of a story is that hook and these guys at DreamOn have done that.”

Episode 2 introduces June 2021 JCAP graduate Derek Bruner, who was a victim of a child molester when he was young and that had a profound effect on his journey growing up that led him to drugs and addiction. His father, Shawn, also is introduced and talks about how Derek at one time considered suicide and “he changed his pain to drugs.” Derek began healing, with a lot of help from JCAP, and he told his dad he didn’t want that old life anymore. “We’ve got the old Derek back,” Shawn said.

Another JCAP graduate introduced is Chris Henson, who had to get his top teeth all removed but oral surgeon Dr. Lucas Reed at The Oral Surgery Group donated his time to replace them.

After episode 2, Greene interviewed Desenberg. He asked her what the biggest difference was that she was seeing now that she’s been involved for a year as of Jan. 1.

“I guess I would say the difference, we still have a lot of residents that are there that started with us. Some who have moved on … some of them we still have … I think the difference is that there isn’t a lot of difference. I think what I see is, more individuals, there’s a couple guys back here with their kids, is families coming back together,” she said.

Greene talked about how Desenberg has given men and women in Work Release “dignity” by calling them residents instead of inmates.

“I would say, my husband sitting right here, that’s my family. I call them, relatively, 85 extra children. You can be adults, too,” she said.

Greene asked Desenberg what the “secret sauce” was in the whole thing, and it’s love. He then told the audience to get out their tissues for episode 3.

The third episode starts with Derek Bruner and Jenkins going to Wawasee High School to meet with Superintendent Dr. Stephen Troyer about Derek talking to students about his story because he wants to help people.

JCAP class 6 graduate Shane, who now has a job, fiancee and a baby, is introduced. He says he wasted 11 years in addiction. “Don’t give up hope because once you do that, there’s nothing to get sober for,” he says.

The documentary shows moments in JCAP Bible study and with mental health counselor Matthew Graham.

Chloe, a JCAP graduate who was living at Fellowship Missions at the time of the filming, is introduced. Her emotional story includes losing a friend to overdose, she and her husband lost a stepson and within a week, her husband died. She struggles to find a reason to continue, but she says she wants to be a figure who can help people.

“I want to be a person, a voice people can turn to and not be judged because I had a team of people do that for me,” she says toward the conclusion of episode 3.

After that episode, Greene interviewed Fellowship Missions Recovery Services Director Ann Hasse, who said Chloe’s story was a familiar one.

“I see so many faces that have endured hell in their addiction, or previous to their addiction that led to their addiction, and so, no, it’s not the only one. And there are so many in this room that, I look at every one of you, and your lives were hell but you have risen from all of that and you are living, you are not allowing life and addiction to beat you down. You are living amidst all the things that should have killed you. You are living,” Hasse said.

Greene asked her what are the biggest factors that could potentially keep JCAP back. Hasse said stigma was a big one.

“That ‘I’m better than you,’ when, in reality, we all have crap,” she said. “… I don’t care if you’re the greatest person in the world or not, everybody has junk and nobody’s junk is better than any other’s.”

The other factor, she said, was a lack of community.

“We all have it in us to give a smile. We all have it in us to give a ‘you can do this,’” she said.

Greene asked her what “programmatically” would stand in the way of JCAP advancing or growing.

“Support and space,” she said. “Space, meaning we have a limited capacity. Anybody in housing world, treatment world and jail world, we have a lack of space and we can serve more people if we have a little more space.”

Greene then introduced the final episode, which “gives all the reasons why we have to find space, why we have to continue to advance and move this program forward so that we can help people move forward.”

Episode 4 starts with Jenkins, Dukes and Jail Commander Shane Coney going to JCAP graduates’ families’ homes to invite them to a JCAP event, including Kathy Steinman’s – Charlies’ mom – in South Bend. It also shows more of Henson getting his implant surgery; a JCAP participant being asked to leave the program with a week to go because he wasn’t fully vested and continued to display anger issues; a family support group meeting; JCAP graduate Seth and his wife Julia; mock interview day; and Derek Bruner talking to students at Wawasee and Tippecanoe Valley high schools. It ends with an update on where the JCAP graduates are now, but the last frame is a tribute “in loving memory of Shanda Spacy, 1991-2020.”

Jenkins explained to Greene that Spacy was in the first women’s JCAP and she did well for a while after she got out. She made a mistake, overdosed and lost her life.

“She is a constant reminder of why we keep pushing forward and try to help the program grow and bring more and more volunteers in because we understand that community connection that Ann talked about. That’s where we make up those gains and hopefully prevent this from happening again,” she said.

The premiere concluded with the panel discussion involving Greene, Jenkins, Dukes, Coney and Deuel.