20 Under 40: Joseph Boyle helps Routt County inmates recover from substance abuse
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Lt. Joseph Boyle does not have an easy job.
As supervisor for the Routt County Jail, he often works odd hours that begin before dawn as often as they end after sunrise.
But Boyle has a vision. In recent years, he has noticed an increasing number of people with substances abuse issues ending up in a jail system that perpetuates, instead of reverses, their downward spiral.
In the past year, he has implemented several programs to help local inmates get treatment while incarcerated so they can re-enter the community as more successful and law-abiding members of society.
A New Jersey native, Boyle started working at the jail in 2009 after serving in the Army National Guard. Growing up, he saw and felt firsthand the toll of the opioid crisis, in a state where drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death, according to New Jersey Public Media. Many of his friends fell victim to the epidemic.
“A lot of them are either dead or in prison,” he said.
Using a state grant, he hired local addiction counselor Craig Thornhill to offer weekly substance-abuse specific therapy in the jail. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, he has aimed to replace inmates’ destructive habits with more positive ones and to connect them with treatment services in the community for when they are released.
After three months, his services appear to be working. According to Thornhill, all of the inmates who attended therapy in jail are continuing treatment as free members of society.
Name: Joseph Boyle
Profession: Supervisor, Routt County Jail
Education: Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, Army National Guard
To Boyle, the jail is a reflection of the community it was built to protect. If jails are providing opportunities for inmates to succeed, he believes they will continue that upward trajectory upon release.
As he looks at it, “It is about not how you mess up. It is about how you recover.”
Like his stint in the National Guard, Boyle feels fulfilled through his work.
“I love taking care of people, and I love serving my country and my community,” he said.
That joy makes the long hours and stressful environment worth it, though he acknowledged it is not for everyone.
“This job is really hard on families,” he said.
With that in mind, he thanks his wife for supporting him, despite not seeing him often. He also appreciates he has a close-knit group of co-workers who help one another cope with the stress.
“We are a family, and we need to care for each other and watch out for each other,” he said.
Boyle’s boss, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, has been impressed with his hard work and Boyle’s willingness to try innovative strategies within the jail.
“He is a very caring individual, not only for the Sheriff’s Office, but for the county,” Wiggins said. “If there is an individual who is well-deserving of this award, I truly believe that Joe Boyle is a prime candidate for it.”
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