POSTED: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 6:04pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Prisons across the nation cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year but one local woman saw an opportunity that could help not only inmates but the community as a whole.
Linda Ottenson oversees the medical department at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and she saw a huge need, for healthcare treatment and education.
So she decided to do something about it.
Now, Baton Rouge has the first jail in the country that's using movies to educate offenders. It was an idea that came from a doctor's office waiting room and also an idea that Linda Ottensen knew would produce results for her clients.
“We purchased a TV and we already had a DVD Aand VHS player that we could use with the different programs that we have,” said Ottenson.
Educational health videos for the prisoners are something no jail in the nation has provided, until now.
“They are all in that one area waiting to be seen this provides something for them to do rather than talking and sitting or even possibly getting in a fight and getting in trouble.”
Of the 1,600 inmates at the EBR Parish Jail, 200 a day see the videos and eventually, all inmates will come through and have access to the material as well.
"These educational videos give them a preview of these healthcare problems and tell them what to look for," said Health Care Education Assistant, Rose Cain.
Cain says using these videos to help inmates learn about risks is great, not just for the jail but the public as well.
“It helps when they are discharged form prison because a lot of them are more informed about their care.”
With information about how to treat and prevent illness, these offenders will be saving tax payer dollars while incarcerated and as they re-enter the community.
"They will not be a drain on existing resources," noted Ottenson.
Right now the jail is using videos from their pharmacy provider until they start to develop their own videos that will target their specific audience.
"The major content were presenting relates to hypertension and diabetes," said Cain.
"We’re in the process several of the staff here have taken training classes to learn how to make videos."
It's an idea pioneered right here, that Ottenson hopes will eventually land in all jails one day.
They reached out to numerous companies that already provide video education like the one in the waiting room but because inmates cannot purchase drugs or read pamphlets, they declined the offer.
They hope to start making their own videos over the next few months.