Indy Star on 9/20/2018 by Kelly Wilkinson
Roger Hasper, with Goodwill, from left, Taylor Hopkins, with Goodwill Guides, Austin Paschal, with Marion County Probations, and Eric Schlegel, Vice President for Goodwill Southern and Central Indiana Retail Division, battle during a basketball game at Goodwill Commercial Services, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. The goal is to celebrate the New Beginnings program while breaking down re-entry barriers through basketball.
Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana’s New Beginnings hosted the 3-on-3 basketball tournament bringing together participants in New Beginnings, a six month re-entry program for ex-offenders that work on job and life skills, with representatives from Goodwill, IMPD, the Mayor’s Office, Marion County Probation department and other services.
The Indiana Lawyer on 9/20/2018 by Associated Press
The Trump administration has awarded Indiana more than $25 million to fight the opioid epidemic, largely by expanding access to treatment and recovery services.
Indiana’s funding announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was among more than $1 billion awarded to all 50 states to combat opioid abuse.
Indiana is getting more than $18 million to finance several initiatives including two aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths and boosting access to FDA-approved medications for treating opioid abuse.
Another $7 million administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration will go to 26 HRSA-funded community health centers, academic institutions and rural organizations to expand access to integrated drug-treatment and mental health services.
Officials say the opioid crisis claimed more than 130 Americans’ lives per day last year.
Indiana Lawyer on 9/18/2018 by Katie Stancombe
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush has been named the state’s 2018 Government Leader of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
“The role of the chief justice of Indiana is expansive in both its responsibilities and importance,” a Tuesday press release said. “Loretta Rush brings a passionate commitment, and strong organizational skills and communication abilities to all aspects of her position.”
Rush was appointed Indiana’s 108th Supreme Court justice in November 2012, quickly moving up to claim the title of chief justice less than two years later.
“Chief Justice Rush has greatly expanded the use of technology to allow the court system statewide to operate more efficiently,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “From administrative restructuring and establishment of Indiana’s commercial courts to her focus on trying to protect young people from becoming innocent victims of the actions of others, she is a true leader for Indiana and beyond.”
In addition to her work on the bench, Rush supervises the entire judicial branch, including administration and funding of court programs across the state. She co-chairs the National Judicial Opioid Task Force.
Prior to her service with the high court, Rush spent 15 years at a Lafayette law firm and was a Superior Court judge in Tippecanoe County before her appointment to the state Supreme Court.
“The bench and bar in our state widely agree that Loretta Rush’s leadership as chief justice is key to building a better court system for Indiana’s future,” said former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
“Chief Justice Rush is visible and inventive in finding ways to advance our state,” Shepard continued. “She’s become recognized in national judicial circles as a leader who enriches the legal system, and she’s a source of pride for Indiana lawyers and judges.”
Rush will be honored at the Chamber’s 29th Annual Awards Dinner on Nov. 13 at the Indiana Convention Center.
US Department of Veterans Affairs on 9/17/2018
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is ready to hire an additional 50 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists following President Trump’s signing today of the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, a new law shoring up support services to Veterans impacted by the justice system.
The law requires VA, within one year of enactment, to hire 50 additional VJO specialists and place them at eligible VA medical centers (VAMCs); the VJO specialists will, either exclusively or in addition to other duties, serve as part of a justice team in a Veterans Treatment Court or other Veteran-focused court.
“By signing this bill into law, President Trump is demonstrating VA’s commitment to supporting America’s Veterans, particularly those who may be navigating difficult chapters in their lives,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Since incarceration is often linked to homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse, the VJO specialists will help facilitate these Veterans’ access to numerous VA programs and resources.”
Created in 2009, VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Program currently funds 314 VJO specialist positions across the U.S., including 53 added in fiscal year 2018. VJO specialists serve Veterans at earlier stages of the criminal justice process, with a three-pronged focus on outreach to community law enforcement, jails and courts.
VJO specialists at each VA medical center work with Veterans in the local criminal justice system (including but not limited to Veterans Treatment Courts), conduct outreach in jails, and engage with law enforcement by delivering VA-focused training sessions and other informational presentations. VJO specialists have served more than 184,000 justice-involved Veterans since 2009.
The first Veterans Treatment Court started in Buffalo, NY in 2008. There are now 551 Veterans Treatment Courts and other Veteran-focused courts operating in the U.S. VA is a critical partner for these courts, and VJO specialists serve as members of the courts’ interdisciplinary treatment teams.
Veterans Treatment Courts are a Veteran-specific adaptation of the drug court model. Unlike traditional criminal courts, Veterans Treatment Courts are not adversarial; the judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, and others work together as a team to ensure that Veteran defendants access the treatment services they need and fulfill any other requirements imposed by the court.
For more information about the Veterans Justice Outreach Program, visit https://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/VJO.asp.
Washington Examiner on 8/16/2018 by Erin Dunne
(See original article for a video)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary overdose estimates for 2017. Although a few states offer some encouraging examples of progress, the estimates — or even just one, the record 72,000 overdose deaths — offer a troubling look at how the United States is still struggling to address addiction. Of those deaths, the majority, over 49,000, were from opioid overdose.
To help curb opioid overdoses and provide treatment, we need to look at what works.
One of methods that does work, and is backed up with evidence from several studies, is access to medication-assisted treatment programs — specifically buprenorphine (commonly known as Subutex, Suboxone, or a number of other brands). These are programs where a doctor prescribes one of these medications to reduce the cravings of someone suffering from opioid use disorder and, hopefully, enter long-term recovery.
Key to understanding how buprenorphine helps is an understanding of the difference between physical dependence and addiction. This can be a confusing distinction, as the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Addiction is essentially an uncontrollable craving and an inability to control use. These symptoms, specifically cravings, the hallmark of addiction, can lead to self-destructive behavior and can be fatal.
Dependence, on the other hand, is the term used to describe the physical reliance on opioids. Normally, humans produce opioids naturally, but continued use of opioids builds tolerance and the body comes to depend on the external source of opioids just to be “normal” or at equilibrium.
Buprenorphine is an opioid, but a weak enough one that won’t get someone used to using stronger drugs high. Its use in treatment can help change addiction into a managed, predictable, and treatable dependency. That means that the body’s need for opioids is managed, and the person who was suffering from addiction no longer feels the same sort of cravings.
Moreover, in treatment, buprenorphine is combined with naloxone, which helps prevent the misuse or abuse of medication prescribed to treat addiction. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist which, when administered during overdose, competes or blocks the effects of other opioids. When administered as a medication orally, naloxone doesn’t have the forceful impact that it does when injected during an overdose, but its inclusion in a patient’s regimen helps to lower the risk of addiction as it still functions as an antagonist.
In theory, the buprenorphine/naloxone combination should be readily available and could act as a key defense against the clearly on going opioid problem in the U.S. Unlike methadone, another option for medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction, buprenorphine can be prescribed in an office setting.
Unfortunately, buprenorphine remains out of reach for many Americans who could benefit from treatment. A recent study, for example, found that even among those who had overdosed, only 30 percent had access to medication-assisted treatment within a year.
One reason is a simple lack of access to physicians who can prescribe the treatment. Currently, per DEA regulations, no doctor can have more than 100 buprenorphine patients at a time, meaning that people who want treatment and doctors who can provide it are cut off by words and rules from the government. Additionally, emergency rooms, which often treat victims of overdose, have difficulty starting treatment there again, because of regulatory hoops.
Another block to those seeking treatment is insurance companies that have prior-authorization requirements for access to buprenorphine. These requirements lead to delays in access and add an extra barrier for those seeking treatment.
The CDC numbers are devastating. What is worse, though, is knowing that there are treatments that work and that the people who need them don’t have access to them. That should be unacceptable to lawmakers and the public.
Corrections & Mental Health on 9/9/2018 by Lori Whitten
In 2010, more than 4 million adults in the United States were under probation supervision, according to estimates from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Increasingly, the role of probation officers—the correctional professionals who supervise these individuals—has shifted from monitoring offender compliance with court orders to helping people change their behavior. This more inThis is a photograph of a very tall stack manila envelopes, each of which is stuffed with papers. tense involvement of probation officers with offenders involves exposure to many new stressors. A recent study by Kirsten R. Lewis, M.Ed., Ladonna S. Lewis, Ph.D., and Tina M. Garby, Psy.D., examined whether specific caseload events are associated with stress and burnout among these professionals.
To provide a context for their study, Lewis and colleagues reviewed the changing role of probation officers. They note that during the past decade, probation officers have taken on many responsibilities associated with evidence-based practices—including conducting risk assessments, collaborating with offenders to develop problem-oriented case plans, matching offenders with appropriate services, acting as models for positive social behavior, and implementing techniques that promote cognitive restructuring and behavioral change. Because of the increased involvement in the lives of offenders under their supervision, probation officers are exposed to many traumatic situations. For example, they interview victims, assess offenders’ histories, conduct home visits, develop relationships with key individuals involved in offenders’ lives, and witness the impact of offenders’ recidivism and incarceration. Research indicates that exposure to the traumatic experiences of others can affect human-service professionals and that such stress may lead to burnout: emotional exhaustion, losing track of personal needs, and low job satisfaction.
To assess traumatic stress and burnout among adult probation officers who work with criminal offenders, Lewis and colleagues surveyed 309 of these professionals in three states—Arizona, California, and Texas. Officers completed three assessments: Impact of Events Scale-Revised, Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue Self-Test for Helpers, and the Probation Personal Impact Scale. They also provided demographic information and were questioned about caseload events, such as recidivism, suicide, and assault
Officers had been in the probation field for about 10 years, on average, and in their current assignment for 3.5 years. All of the measured caseload events (e.g., a violent offense by a supervisee) and victimizations (e.g., officers being personally threatened or assaulted) were associated with higher reports of “compassion fatigue” and safety concerns, and many of them were linked with stress and burnout (see graph). Officers who reported higher numbers of traumatic caseload events and victimizations also had higher scores in the areas of burnout, mistrust, sexual issues, family problems, anger, distorted world-view, social/emotional isolation, and feeling overly responsible. Increases in traumatic stress were directly related to length of probation career after the researchers accounted for effects attributable to life stages.
Although research from other regions is needed to determine how widespread the impact of traumatic stress among probation officers is, these findings suggest that interventions to mitigate the negative impact of job-related events on these correctional professionals are needed. As in other stressful occupations, knowing what to expect may help probation officers. Education and orientation programs might help officers identify possible caseload events and anticipate their personal impact, allowing officers to identify early signs of stress and burnout, engage in anticipatory coping, and seek support when needed. Such programs could mitigate the negative impacts of caseload events, enhance the resiliency of probation officers, and improve their ability to implement evidence-based practices and their overall quality of work. Such measures may also decrease the rates of burnout and job turnover and improve job satisfaction.
Caseload Events Associated With Traumatic Stress and Burnout
Three hundred and nine adult probation officers from three states who reported particular events related to offenders in their caseloads scored significantly higher on measures of traumatic stress and burnout than officers who did not experience these caseload events. The percentages of probation officers reporting these events are represented in the graph.
Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute on 5/17/2018
A Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute
The number of Americans with a criminal history is on the rise, and nearly one-third of the adult working-age population has a record. A new nationwide study commissioned by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) finds that, while these Americans do face additional scrutiny during the hiring process, many employees, managers, and Human Resources (HR) professionals, are open to working with and hiring people with criminal histories.
At a time when unemployment nears a record low, many employers are finding that they need to consider new sources of workers. For many organizations, individuals with criminal records can be a good source of untapped talent. SHRM and CKI have begun investigating the attitudes and opinions of managers, non-managers, and HR professionals towards this policy.
Download full report
Indiana Task Force on Public Defense on 09/12/2018
The Indiana Task Force on Public Defense (Task Force) presented its Final Report to the Indiana Public Defender Commission (Commission) on August 22, 2018.
The report identified numerous systemic deficiencies and made recommendations for both immediate and long-term system reforms. The Commission has tentatively approved a legislative/policy reform agenda for 2019 and seeks public comment for the September 19, 2018, Commission meeting, when the agenda will be finalized.
Written comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Commission staff may also be reached at the link listed above for questions or comment.
The United States Probation Office for the Southern District of Indiana has been dedicated to the memory of U.S. Probation Officer Thomas E. Gahl, who was the first U.S. Probation Officer killed in the line of duty by a parolee. Tom was killed on September 22, 1986, by Michael Wayne Jackson, who had a life-long history of mental illness and random acts of violence. Being pursued after a lengthy crime spree, which included two other murders and several kidnappings, Jackson ended his own life.
Tom took the oath of office as a U.S. Probation Officer on March 14, 1975, after working in the Indiana State Penitentiary, Michigan City, and the U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a 1st Lieutenant. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, and a master’s degree from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana. During his 11 years as a U.S. Probation Officer, Tom was known as a fair, well-mannered professional who treated everyone equally. He also enjoyed socializing with his colleagues at baseball games over a beer.
Above all, Tom was a dedicated father and husband who enjoyed a full and contented family life with his wife, Nancy, and sons, Christopher and Nicholas. By dedicating the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Indiana to Thomas E. Gahl, we desire to perpetuate his memory — his many significant contributions to the work of this office, his genial personality and exemplary character — and to express again, in a more permanent way, our deep and lasting affection for him.
Video Tribute to Tom Gahl
Tom Gahl, 25 Years Later
Young: Remembering US Probation Officer Tom Gahl
The Indiana Lawyer on 09/12/2018 by David Stafford
A juvenile accused of robbing a pharmacy might not be tried in federal criminal court because attempted robbery is not considered a violent crime in Indiana, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, vacating the teen’s waiver to be tried as an adult.
D.D.B. was arrested with an adult accomplice shortly after an Indianapolis pharmacy robbery, after which the government moved in May 2017 to waive him to federal criminal court. Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis, granted the waiver about two months later, based on D.D.B.’s first juvenile delinquency adjudication, for what would have been attempted robbery if committed by an adult.
“The district court held that (attempted robbery) is indeed a crime of violence,” one of the requirements for juvenile waiver to criminal court, Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for the panel in Untied States of America v. D.D.B., 17-2563.
“At first blush, it seems like the answer to the question ‘is Indiana attempted robbery a violent crime?’ has been unequivocally answered by two recent decisions from this court, United States v. Duncan, 833 F.3d 751 (7th Cir. 2016), and Hill v. United States, 877 F.3d 717 (7th Cir. 2017). In Duncan, we held that robbery under Indiana law qualifies as a violent felony. Duncan, 833 F.3d at 758. And in Hill we held that ‘[w]hen a substantive offense would be a violent felony under § 924(e) and similar statutes, an attempt to commit that offense also is a violent felony.’”
But in vacating D.D.B.’s waiver from juvenile court, the panel noted Indiana’s armed robbery statute lacks an intent element, “and so a conviction by itself does not establish that the defendant had intent. He could simply knowingly take a substantial step toward the taking of property through force or fear. One would have to look behind the conviction to the underlying facts to know if he had the intent to commit the crime, and this we cannot do,” Rovner continued.
“One way to view the reasoning in Hill is to say that under the definition of attempted robbery in Illinois, once a person intends to attempt to commit robbery, that person has made a decision that she is ‘all in’ on all aspects of the crime, including the violence.
“… We can logically say, therefore, that the ‘attempt to commit the crime necessarily includes an attempt to use or to threaten use of physical force against the person or property of another,’” Rovner concluded. “But we cannot say the same about the person who is attempting robbery in Indiana. We do not know what the Indiana robber’s intent was if the crime has been interrupted and has merely been attempted, but not completed, as a conviction for attempt does not require proof of intent.”
The panel also concluded D.D.B.’s appeal was timely, as it was an appeal from a juvenile proceeding, a civil matter in which 60 days are allowed for filing appeals.
On remand, the panel noted, the district court may consider either of D.D.B.’s two other predicate delinquency adjudications — burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery — to see if they meet the legal threshold of violent crimes that would allow the government to try him as an adult.
Indiana Office of Court Services on 09/13/2018
The Indiana Office of Court Services will be holding the Justice Services Conference on August 6-8, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center. Though it is a year away, we are ready to start planning for this event and we would love your help! Like last year, we are opening a Call for Papers. If you know of anyone who would be a good presenter, please share the link below with them or send us an email and we can contact them. Feel free to share the information and link with your staff as well.
Thank you in advance and we look forward to another great conference next year!
Judge Vicki Carmichael
The Founder’s Award is a way of recognizing individuals who have significantly contributed to the field of probation in general and specifically to the POPAI organization. The recipient need not be a Probation Officer or POPAI member. The selected person however, shall be characterized by his/her commitment of influence and promotion of professionalism to Indiana Probation.
This year’s recipient is not a probation officer; however, she has been a big proponent of the efforts of POPAI to assure that Indiana Probation Officers are paid professional wages in accordance with their education and skill set. She is supportive and encourages all of her county’s probation officers to attend POPAI’s Annual Fall Conference. She also authorizes the payment of all the probation officer’s POPAI dues. Furthermore, she has supported POPAI in the past by being a guest speaker at the 2015 fall conference.
The 2018 Founder’s Award winner is Judge Vicki Carmichael from Clark County. Her nominators indicated that Judge Carmichael has worked tirelessly to assure that the probation department is fully staffed and funded. That she has supported and encouraged probation’s involvement in numerous statewide projects. And finally, Judge Carmichael’s Family Treatment Drug Court was recently awarded a 2.1 million dollar grant that will serve an additional 175 families in Clark County that are in crisis due to drug addiction.
On behalf of the POPAI Board, please join me in congratulating Judge Vicki Carmichael as this year’s Founder’s Award winner.
wane.com on 9/14/2018 by Angelica Robinson
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – – The Food and Drug Administration made national headlines when it declared that teen vaping is an epidemic. The agency threatened to stop the sale of flavored e-cigarettes if the manufacturers cannot prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of teens.
JUUL and at least four other manufacturers that dominate the e-cigarette industry are now required to provide plans to reduce sales to young people within 60 days or the companies could face criminal or civil action.
Over the last month, 15 Finds Out has been looking into the popularity of JUUL products. JUUL is a relatively new type of e-cigarette that looks similar to a flash drive and can be charged using the USB port on a computer.
“Here comes this innovative new product that essentially packages this addictive drug [nicotine] in a different form that [kids] haven’t been taught to hate,” said Nancy Cripe, Executive Director at Tobacco Free Allen County. “They haven’t been taught how dangerous it is.”
Users attach a JUUL pod to the device which contains high levels of nicotine.
“A kid who is going through a pod a day, and there are a lot of teens out there doing that right now, said Cripe. “They’re getting like two pack of cigarettes worth of nicotine or more.”
The product has been on the market for just over year, but in that short time JUUL as managed to dominate the e-cigarette market, accounting for roughly 70 percent of the sales. Consumers must be at least 18-years-old to purchase the product but JUUL products are by far the most popular among high school students.
“We know from the data that they are reaching kids big time,” said Cripe. “And kids who would not otherwise be using nicotine.”
15 Finds Out has learned that kids may be ‘JUULing’ right under your nose.
According to a 2017 Indiana Youth Survey, about 13 percent of middle and high school students in Allen County admitted to using electronic cigarettes at least once. The rising popularity of JUUL and other electronic cigarettes has prompted school administrators to take action.
“The more we researched we found that it was not just problematic to our school or even our area,” said Jeff Kintz, who is the Assistant Principal at Homestead High School. “It is all over the country.”
Kintz has a growing collection of e-cigarette devices and accessories. He said about 95 percent of the collection consists of JUUL products, which first came on his radar last winter.
“One of the first times that I discovered the device is when I went into a book bag based upon reasonable suspicion of [a student] having something that they were smoking in the classroom,” he said. “The device was still charging in the computer.”
Kintz said students are smoking JUUL on school grounds and sometimes even in the classroom.
“They’ll hide [the smoke] up their sleeve, or maybe down their shirts and expel it in that manner,” said Kintz. “It’s problematic from the addictive standpoint because I can tell you that I had more than a handful of students that I caught with them more than once.”
As a result, Kintz said the Southwest Allen County School district has stiffened penalties for students caught with JUUL or any other e-cigarettes. Faculty and staff members are regularly trained on the latest devices and how to spot them. He said many parents are not aware the device even exists.
“Maybe they aren’t as savvy in paying attention to what their son or daughter is doing at home behind closed doors,” he said. “Or maybe they don’t go through their book bag or their belongings. They might feel as if they don’t have that right when they have every right to do so. And should be.”
Administrators at Fort Wayne Community, Northwest Allen, and East Allen, all say they are aware of JUUL, but have not seen a significant increase in student use.
JUUL maintains the product is intended for current adult smokers only. Victoria Davis, a Spokesperson for JUUL released this statement:
“Cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 480,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses. JUUL is intended for current adult smokers only. We cannot be more emphatic on this point: no minor or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL. Our packaging includes a prominent nicotine label and clearly states for adult smokers.
We are working closely with Attorney General Tom Miller and the group of tobacco control experts and public health officials he has assembled to help advise us on efforts to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people. We are investing $30 million over the next three years dedicated to independent research, youth and parent education and community engagement efforts.”
Cripe said there is a misconception that JUUL products are safer than regular cigarettes. She wants teens and parents to know that is just not the case.
“I think what they need to know is it’s just as dangerous,” she said. “This is going to get you addicted just like a cigarette would. Then you are turning over your money and your health to the tobacco companies.”
NPR on 09/12/2018 by Nina Feldman
Cristina Rivell has been struggling with an opioid addiction since she was a teenager — going in and out of rehab for five years. The most recent time, her doctor prescribed her a low dose of buprenorphine (often known by its brand name, Suboxone), a drug that helps curb cravings for stronger opioids and prevents the symptoms of withdrawal.
As the devastating effects of the opioid crisis continue, a growing body of research supports the efficacy and safety of this sort of medication-assisted treatment (also called MAT) for drug recovery, when combined with psychotherapy. But the use of any of these medicines — a list that includes methadone and naltrexone, as well as Suboxone — remains frowned upon by most operators of sober living houses.
These “recovery houses,” sometimes also referred to as sober living homes, sober homes or sobriety houses, are commercially run residences where small groups of people who are battling addiction live and eat together, go together to meetings of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous and support each other as they go to therapy.
Though such homes are only loosely regulated and have come under scrutiny in some states for cases of mismanagement, some of these facilities have also saved lives, survivors of addiction say.
But operators of the facilities often demand “cold turkey” sobriety, and that’s a problem say specialists in addiction treatment. Continue reading →
Herald Times on 9/5/2018 by Ernest Rollins
Linda Brady, Monroe County Chief Probation Officer
Declining user fee revenues continue to be a budgeting concern for probation and community corrections officials.
Two probation officer positions previously supported by the court, alcohol and drug fees fund were moved to the county general fund on Tuesday, the first day of the 2019 county council budget work sessions.
Chief Probation Officer Linda Brady said the court, alcohol and drug fees fund — which is supported by fees collected when someone commits a drug or alcohol-related offense — can no longer fund two probation officer positions. As a result, officials turned to tax-supported funds to cover some expenses next year. Along with moving two probation officer positions to county general, the county council also preliminarily approved paying for electronic monitoring expenses.
County Councilman Geoff McKim said court officials have made the case that court user fees are no longer capable of sustaining certain operations. Additionally, he said having tax-supported funds, like the general fund, aid in covering some of those expenses is a worthwhile investment.
“We all say we are for alternatives to incarceration and this is kind of where the rubber hits the road,” McKim said.
Court officials ran into similar challenges during last year’s budget session when they requested a probation officer position be moved to public safety local income tax fund. At one point, Brady said fees collected in that fund were able to support seven probation officer positions. Now, only one position remains.
Brady said user fees have not kept pace with expenses. For example, Tom Rhodes, community corrections director and assistant chief probation officer for Monroe County, said the department is using more global positions satellite monitoring technology to keep tabs on offenders which is a much costlier expense. As part of the 2019 budget, electronic monitoring costs are $160,000.
Another factor officials believe is impacting user fees is its participation in a pilot pretrial diversion program. Cash bonds are one source of user fees. However, one of the goals of a pretrial diversion program is to move away from the cash bond system.
Monroe is one of 11 Indiana counties participating in a pilot pretrial services program. The Indiana Supreme Court designated Monroe as one of the pilot counties with the intention of expanding the program statewide by 2020. Brady said while the pretrial services program has its benefits it did cut into a revenue source for operations.
“I think everybody knew it could happen,” Brady said.
Along with moving positions and some equipment costs out of court user fee funds, officials also made cuts or reduced budget lines to control costs. One major cost-saving effort was to eliminate the county’s road crew program, which was first implemented in 1983. Troy Hatfield, deputy chief probation officer, said discontinuing the program saves around $50,000.
County council members will continue deliberating the 2019 budget requests from departments this week. McKim said he estimates council is starting this year’s budget sessions about with $521,000 more being requested over projected revenues. However, McKim said there are a number of items double budgeted as department heads turn to council to determine which pot of money is most appropriate for an expense.