LOGAN- Ash Wednesday – officially known as the Day of Ashes – is a day of repentance, when some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide confess their sins and profess their devotion to God.
Even the Catholic inmates in the Cache County Jail took time Wednesday for a worship service and smudged a cross on their foreheads to show they belong to Jesus Christ and mourn for their sins. It also gives inmates a chance to show grief and give thanks to Jesus Christ for dying on the cross so they can be forgiven of their sins.
Ann, a volunteer from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, comes once a week to minister to the inmates.
“I’ve been working with them for three or four years,” Ann said. “The tradition started several decades ago.”
The lady before Ann did it for 30 or so years until she died.
Ann stands at a podium and guides the inmates through the service. Some get a chance to read scripture, they also watch videos.
The inmates said they look forward once a week to going to the service.
“God is an escape,” one inmate said. “This meeting gets your mind off of things.”
Another inmate said, “Ann is amazing, she comes every week.”
Rosary beads aren’t allowed in the jail, so they print out a paper copy of beads inmates can point to as they worship.
Deputy Nathan York, the program’s coordinator for the jail, said there are other religious services. There is midweek service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptist and a non-denominational service.
York said they don’t force anyone to come, they just provide an opportunity, but inmates still seem to find their way to the services.
Besides the religious services the jail has, other programs are offered that help inmates change their lives while housed there.
The programs include classes on Substance Abuse, Anger Management, Thinking for a Change, Relapse Prevention, Parenting and more in hopes of helping inmates once they are released.
“We have an average of 275 inmates here,” he said. “We also contract with the Utah State Prison, Rich and Franklin counties and house some of their inmates.”
The county receives compensation for those that come from outside of the county.
The county jail that opened in 2004 has a maximum mixed bed population of 375 inmates.
Jail Commander Roy Hall said they run a strict jail and a lot of inmates from the State Penitentiary don’t like coming to the Cache County Jail because they don’t get all of the privileges they had where they came from.
“We have anywhere from 15 to 25 inmates from outside of our county,” he said. “The population ebbs and flows.”
Hall said they are pretty picky on the inmates they will accept from outside of the county.
“If they have behavioral or mental issues, we return them to where they came from,” he said. “We have an excellent medical staff here.”
Hall said inmates are evaluated three times for mental and medical as they come into the jail. The deputies are the first to ask the inmates if they have any issues, then the medical professionals talk to them twice before they settle in.
“We offer them incentives to take some of our programs that help with their functional behavior,” he said. “The programs are set up to help with their base level thinking process.”