Special Reports

Pierce County Jail is the one constant in his life

Cannon Schultz got into a lot of fights in middle school. He attended Mount Tahoma High School but didn’t graduate. He said he’s been in and out of custody since he was 15, and hasn’t seen his three siblings since he was a child.

If there’s one constant presence in his life, it is the Pierce County Jail. He’s been in and out seven times in the past 21 months.

Schultz, 21, expects to be released again in July. This time, because of a new program that provides help to offenders with mental illness, he hopes to stay out.

“It’s time for my chance,” he said. “I need to do this for me.”

Schultz qualified for help because he is one of the Top 55 repeat offenders. He came into the program diagnosed with a mood disorder. He’s a drug addict who says he’s been clean since Feb. 18.

A chemical-dependency professional meets with him in jail. Once he’s out, he’ll enroll in a treatment program, receive medication and live in a housing facility that requires residents to stay clean and sober.

Schultz said he hopes to get married, raise a family and “be successful in the community.” His mother lives in Tacoma.

He entered the Community Re-Entry Program after he was released from jail in December, when the program started.

Since then, he’s been rearrested twice. He was back in jail Feb. 19 for violating a no-contact order and then released March 13. He said he landed back in jail April 5 after missing a court date on a forgery charge when he went to an emergency room to be treated for an abscess.

“I guess I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing in the program,” he told DeDe Hazzard, his chemical-dependency professional, during a meeting in jail.

“How could have I better communicated to you?” Hazzard asked.

Schultz said setting dates for weekly appointments would have helped.

“It sounds like scheduling is something I could be working on for you,” Hazzard said.

Schultz is from Tacoma but is homeless and is counting on the program to “pretty much be my backbone.”

He said he likes working with his hands; he wants to take some college classes and get into construction. He has worked for a shop sharpening saw blades.

To control his mood, he said he’s trying to get back on medication in the jail. He said he’s an addict but described his drug use as “recreational.” He said he’s used cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

“It’s not that hard for me to quit,” said Schultz, uncuffed and dressed in a dark green prison uniform. “I don’t need it. It’s just something to do, I guess.”

After he gets out, he said he’ll talk with someone before he acts on his impulses.

“I feel like the path is becoming clear,” he said.