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Blood tests for DWI cases costing Hancock County

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Associated Press

07/23/2014

In the hands of a jury, a simple blood test can mean the difference between a drunken-driver who is convicted and one who walks free.

With the popularity of crime dramas causing what public safety officials call “the CSI effect,” jurors today have come to expect law enforcement to provide irrefutable data in cases that go to trial.

But in drunken-driving cases, the same tests prosecutors say have become necessary to successfully convict are also draining an important county budget.

The prosecutor’s diversion fund, which covers the initial cost of blood tests given to suspected drunken drivers, received a $23,000 appropriation for 2014. That amount is nearly exhausted, Hancock County Prosecutor Michael Griffin told the Daily Reporter.

That’s due in part to rising costs for blood draws, but also because of an unexpected increase in the number of suspects who refuse the alternative, a breath test, after being stopped. A breath test is one of the most basic steps for measuring a person’s sobriety, and it doesn’t cost the county a dime; but when a person refuses to cooperate, the county must foot the bill to test their blood.

Delayed releases continuing problem at Marion County Jail

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The Indiana Lawyer

08/15/2014

Two Marion Superior criminal court judges said Friday they continue to be frustrated by delayed releases of arrestees detained after orders have been signed for their release.

Criminal Division 6 Judge Mark Stoner and Criminal Division 8 Judge Amy Jones told the Marion Superior Executive Committee that delayed releases continue despite efforts to improve the processing of release orders by staff at the Marion County Jail.

Stoner noted a case “as recently as this week” in which a person was detained two days after a release order had been signed. Jones said an arrestee recently was held an extra day after a release order from her court.

Indiana excise police warn retirement home about alcohol

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The Associated Press

July 12, 2014

 — Excise police are known for breaking up parties in college towns like Bloomington, but Meadowood Retirement Community residents were a bit surprised when they received word from the agency they could no longer be served beer and wine at their weekly social hour.

Meadowood stopped the practice last month after excise police told officials there it could no longer serve its residents alcohol without a state liquor license from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Officials there then told administrators at Bell Trace Independent Living and Assisted Living, which stopped its practice of serving wine at social hours.

Indiana Probation Standards revised effective July 1st

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Indiana Court Times

06/26/2014

The Judicial Conference of Indiana Board of Directors voted unanimously at its March 2014 meeting to approve revisions to the Indiana Probation Standards. The revisions mark the first significant changes to the Probation Standards since 2001 and become effective on July 1st.

The Probation Officers Advisory Board worked on the revisions for two years, with an eye toward bringing the standards in line with evidence-based practices. The Judicial Conference Probation Committee approved the work of the Advisory Board and made their own revisions to streamline the Standards.

According to Hendricks Superior Court Judge Mark Smith, chair of the Probation Committee, the revisions are long overdue. “The Standards were last revised in 2001, and the field of probation supervision has changed dramatically in the last 13 years. The Advisory Board did a wonderful job incorporating evidence-based supervision practices into the Standards, and public safety and offender outcomes should improve as a result.”

Judge Smith identified several noteworthy revisions:

  • new standards that incorporate risk assessment policies
  • requiring development of case plans based on risk assessment results
  • requiring that case plans target criminogenic needs
  • requiring performance measures to document the outcomes of department initiatives

The Revised Standards are located on the Indiana Judicial Center’s website.

County, judges reach deal to add probation officers

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Post-Tribune

August 18, 2014

Carrie Napoleon

CROWN POINT — The understaffed criminal courts will be getting five new probation officers, but how the county plans to pay for them remains up in the air.

The Lake County Council on Tuesday approved hiring the five new probation officers for a total of $184,801 in salary plus benefits to bring the courts closer to the state standards defining how many probationers one probation officer can manage.