News and Tribune on January 19, 2017 by ELIZABETH DEPOMPEI
Inpatient opportunity could be a ‘game changer’
JEFFERSONVILLE — Excited, but worried. That’s how 42-year-old Michael Bowlin described how he felt about completing the first 90 days of an in-house drug treatment program with Clark County Community Corrections this week.
Bowlin is one of four people to graduate from the first stage of the budding forensic diversion program since it started taking referrals in early October. After 90 days of in-house treatment — which includes individual and group counseling — program participants spend another nine months in a supervised day-reporting program while receiving outpatient treatment through LifeSpring Health System’s Project 180.
The yearlong treatment program is funded entirely through state grants, an initiative designed to encourage community corrections programs to use evidence-based methods as alternatives to incarceration in state facilities. Former Clark County Community Corrections director Danielle Grissett — who now works in the county’s probation office — applied for the initial round of funding, which came in at around $135,000 for the program.
Bobbi Craig, the forensic diversion program coordinator, said she’s received at least 40 referrals for the program from the courts so far. The program can hold 25 men, but only seven have been accepted into the program, a nod to how selective the process can be. As of now, the program can only accommodate men.
Craig said she starts by reviewing a person’s criminal history. If the person has been convicted of a violent offense in the past 10 years, he’s disqualified from entering the program. She then uses the Indiana Risk Assessment System to determine the person’s likelihood of reoffending. Those with a moderate to high level risk are preferred, but other circumstances for low-risk individuals are taken into consideration.
“Then I’ll go down and interview them, see where they’re at,” Craig said. “If they’re not willing to participate in the program — because it is a lot of work — then I’ll just let the courts know they don’t want to participate.”
Craig said everyone is told up front that the program requires hard work and commitment, and anyone who violates the rules of the program will be sent back to jail and face a re-sentencing, which can include jail or prison time.
Bowlin was facing several years in prison for burglary and theft charges. But when Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Andrew Adams recommended Bowlin enter the forensic diversion program, he took the opportunity to turn his life around.
“I was not only willing to take a year program rather than a three-year sentence, but I knew I needed some kind of drug treatment,” Bowlin said. “Even if I went and done the three years, I would have probably just come out and started using drugs again.”