(Monroe) County’s community corrections director retiring

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Herald Times on 12/10/2019

Retiring Monroe County Community Corrections Director Tom Rhodes, center, poses with his predecessor, Peggy Welch, at right, and the soon-to-be new director, Becca Streit, left. (Courtesy photo)

Tom Rhodes, who has served as the Monroe County Community Corrections Director for almost 30 of the program’s 37 years of existence, is retiring. Rhodes also has served concurrently as the assistant chief probation officer for the Monroe Circuit Court Probation Department.

There [was] a retirement reception in courtroom 313 of the Charlotte T. Zietlow Justice Center, open to the public, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Last month, the Indiana Association of Community Corrections Act Counties presented Rhodes with the first ever Founders Award recognizing his lifetime achievements and contributions to the field.

The local Community Corrections Program officially started on October 3, 1983, with four initial components: house arrest, road crew, public restitution and victim-offender reconciliation. The program has evolved throughout the years to be a key criminal justice program in reducing recidivism.

Rhodes succeeded the program’s first and only other director, Peggy Welch, who later served as a state representative.

“Tom wrote and secured grant awards of more than $17 million during his tenure,” said Linda Brady, the county’s chief probation officer. “His effective grant management budgets usually resulted in spending grants to the penny, which he took great pride in.”

Rhodes has been a statewide leader in implementing evidence-based correctional practices. Under his leadership, the Monroe County Community Corrections Program received the highest performance score in the state during the last two evidence-based practice audits conducted by the Indiana Department of Correction.

In 2001, Rhodes collaborated with Tom Sexton of Indiana University to promote the use of Functional Family Therapy for local juveniles and their families. Monroe County’s juvenile FFT program was recognized by the National Institute for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice as one of seven national model programs.

In 1991, Rhodes wrote a grant to fund a networked computer and communication system. The next year he wrote a grant to introduce the use of electronic monitoring anklets with field officer drive-by scanners. Later he promoted the use of global tracking system anklets.

In 2010, Rhodes presented his concept of mobile telephonic probable-cause hearings at a National Institute of Justice conference and later at an International Community Corrections Association conference. He demonstrated that a probation officer with an iPhone could record a hearing with a judge and create a warrant for immediate service by law enforcement on a 24/7 basis. Three years later, Tech-Beat Magazine featured Rhodes’ first use of another app to track field officers for safety and management.

In 2014, Rhodes was appointed to the Corrections Technology Panel by the National Institute of Correction to work as a consultant for the Rand Corp.’s research with electronic monitoring.

Rhodes has served on numerous boards both locally and statewide, including the United States Bureau of Justice’s Technology Advisory Committee, and the executive board of IACCAC which gave him the Community Corrections Director of the Year Award in 2000.

Rhodes is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and plans to get back to writing, along with staying active as a minister. He currently serves as pastor of Knightridge Pentecostal Church.