Inmates in the Lincoln County Jail have some four-legged companions as cell-mates after the Sheriff recently approved the adoption of two cats from a local animal shelter to help relieve inmate stress and assist in their rehabilitation.
Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer recently instituted a program in the county jail that called for the adoption of a pair of stray cats to 'help inmates in the correctional facility pass time' while they were incarcerated.
Kramer thought the feline companions would "help the inmates feel a little more relaxed and less destructive"' if they had cats to keep them company in the cell block.
The Sheriff allowed local news crews from KNOP Channel 2 to film the cats inside the jail as they played with the inmates who are solely responsible for their care.
"We got their mug shots and put them in a couple of cells where we thought they would be better received. We have a little list of cat rules that have been laminated and put in the cells to let them know the basic care of the cats such as cleaning their litter box, but they are waiting in line to take care of the cat," says Sheriff Jerome Kramer.
The two cats residing with the inmates at the jail include Nemo, who lives in the work release cell block, and Sarge who lives in minimum security.
Kramer told KNOP that "studies show it helps relieve stress and gives them something to do and something to occupy their time." The Sheriff said the adult cats would have a really good life at the jail. "Who knows what would have happened to them if we wouldn't have adopted them," said Kramer.
A few inmates from the jail also participate in a volunteer program at the local animal shelter. They join Chicago's Cook County with a program to assist shelter's with staffing issues by allowing minimum security inmates to complete tasks like cleaning the cages of the animals awaiting adoption at county shelters.
According to one individual incarcerated at the jail, the cats "bring out the soft part in you just like your kids do," Guy Meyers told Channel 2 news.
"Our staff loves the idea. It's a really good deal," says Chief Deputy Roland Kramer.
Pets in Prison are becoming commonplace as jails throughout the country are taking in dogs, cats and wild animals that need socialization, rehabilitation and the constant care that inmates can provide.