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4-day workweek boosted employees’ productivity by 40%, Microsoft says

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CNN Wire on 11/5/2019

A growing number of smaller companies are adopting a four-day workweek. Now the results of a recent trial at Microsoft suggest it could work even for the biggest businesses.

The company introduced a program this summer in Japan called the “Work Life Choice Challenge,” which shut down its offices every Friday in August and gave all employees an extra day off each week.

The results were promising: While the amount of time spent at work was cut dramatically, productivity — measured by sales per employee — went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year, the company said in a statement last week.

In addition to reducing working hours, managers urged staff to cut down on the time they spent in meetings and responding to emails.

They suggested that meetings should last no longer than 30 minutes. Employees were also encouraged to cut down on meetings altogether by using an online messaging app (Microsoft’s, of course).

The effects were widespread. More than 90% of Microsoft’s 2,280 employees in Japan later said they were impacted by the new measures, according to the company.

By shutting down earlier each week, the company was also able to save on other resources, such as electricity.

The initiative is timely. Japan has long grappled with a grim — and in some cases, fatal — culture of overwork. The problem is so severe, the country has even coined a term for it: karoshi means death by overwork from stress-induced illnesses or severe depression.

The issue attracted international attention in 2015, when an employee at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu died by suicide on Christmas Day. Tokyo officials later said that the staffer had worked excessive amounts of overtime.

Two years later, a reporter at a Japanese broadcaster died after working punishing long hours. Her employer said she had clocked in 159 hours of overtime the month before her death.

That has led businesses to start searching for solutions. Some companies have begun offering employees more flexibility, and the government has launched a campaign called “Premium Friday,” which encourages workers to leave early every last Friday of the month.

Microsoft, for its part, says it will conduct another experiment in Japan later this year. It plans to ask employees to come up with new measures to improve work-life balance and efficiency, and will also ask other companies to join the initiative.

Southern District gets more than $2 million in DOJ funds to fight opioid crisis

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The Indiana Lawyer on 12/16/2019 by IL Staff

Funding amounting to more than $2.4 million has been granted to agencies in the Southern District of Indiana to help combat drug and crime concerns stemming from the opioid crisis, US Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced Friday. 

The grant funding is part of national awards of more than $333 million to help communities affected by the opioid crisis, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs.

How Indianapolis employers are adjusting to hiring ex-offenders amid tight labor market

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USA Today on 11/6/2019

William Troutman Jr., 46, got his second chance at a recycling center. He started as a picker on the presort line, then he got his forklift certification. He was recently promoted.

He makes $10.50 per hour working the floor where recycled material gets compressed and shipped away.

“This place opened the doors when they didn’t have to for a lot of offenders, and opening doors really gives offenders a new light,” he said.

Troutman said he first become involved in the justice system at 16 in the early 1990s.

Last year, he was caught selling drugs to make money to get out of medical debt from a collapsed lung. He was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

“It wasn’t right, but it was a choice I made on my own,” he said.

After his trial last month, Troutman will serve four years of house arrest and two years of probation. That won’t keep him from working at Ray’s Trash Service.

In a tight hiring market from low unemployment, more ex-offenders such as Troutman are finding jobs than before. Scott Whiting, the Indianapolis branch manager of Allegiance Staffing, said more employers are embracing the labor source.

“This is the most felon-friendly time in my 20 years of doing this work,” said Gregg Keesling, president of Recycle Force, a business that specifically hires ex-offenders.

Wages are on par with those without a criminal record, said Lena Hackett, president of Community Solutions. Those who have been incarcerated can expect to make the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour up to $16 per hour.

At Public Advocates in Community Re-entry or PACE, Executive Director Rhiannon Edwards said open jobs and employers looking for ex-offenders far outnumber the number of prepared candidates, nearly triple what it was three years ago.

Why employers turn to ex-offenders
It’s a stark shift from when the organization, which primarily works with people with a record of felony or multiple misdemeanors, struggled to match ex-offenders with jobs. With the support of the Indy Chamber, PACE has had the luxury of primarily placing ex-offenders in jobs that pay above minimum wage, Edwards said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Indianapolis, Carmel and Anderson unemployment rate is about 3%, a significant decrease from five years ago when the rate was closer to 6%.

In jails and prisons, Indiana’s incarcerated population is growing.

According to a report from the Vera Institute of Justice, the national prison population decreased by 1.3% from 2017 to 2018. But in Indiana, the population increased by 3.3%.

Hackett said many employers are willing to look past charges such as possession of drugs, minor assaults, driving under the influence and public intoxication.

“It really becomes a barometer of how long has it been since then and what you’ve done since then,” Hackett said.

Not all employers have found successful employees or been able to accommodate the challenges of hiring the formerly incarcerated.

At DECO Coatings, President Janet South described hiring the formerly incarcerated as a “revolving door.” Many ex-offenders show up late, often wearing sneakers instead of their steel-toed boots. After giving out raises, South said some workers become complacent and start missing work with excuses such as toothache.

“Many of these folks – to report to a job every day and do a full day’s work and then leave – that is all new to them. It’s a whole different cultural shock,” she said.

Whiting said his company, which matches people with manufacturing and warehouse companies, finds the right candidates by partnering with community organizations, which vet and recommend ex-offenders for employment.

“Who among us doesn’t need a second chance at some point?” he said. “Maybe it’s better to hire someone who’s paid their dues than someone who hasn’t been caught yet.”

Transitional employee Brooke Cash works at Recycle Force in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2017. Cash has worked at Recycle Force for four months. She finished her work-release program in late January this year and is now on house arrest, making the hour drive to work five days a week. In the future, she hopes to better her relationship with her 13-year-old son and find a career helping women and children who face situations similar to what has been through.

A network of support and training
To be considered “job ready” at PACE, ex-offenders have to fulfill a checklist of requirements, such as having reliable transportation, child care and housing and any substance abuse and mental health issues under control. Employers can feel burned if they hire a series of unsuccessful workers, Edwards said.

Whiting emphasizes to ex-offenders that at their next workplace, they’ll need to demonstrate a good attitude, the willingness and ability to learn and most importantly, good attendance.

It’s important to have employers who understand that ex-offenders are adjusting from another life.

Whiting said supervisors should understand that discipline needs to be done sensitively, with an understanding that ex-offenders may have trauma from correctional facilities.

Supervisors should know that in prison, people’s identities become attached to their possessions, which can affect the workplace, Whiting said. When gloves or company helmets are handed out, ex-offenders may be reluctant to switch with those they were initially assigned.

Working with batteries and appointments
Beyond a culture fit, employers have to accommodate ex-offenders’ schedule of parole meetings and drug tests, which are ordered randomly and on short notice.

At DECO Coatings, South said workers have neglected to tell managers about pre-scheduled parole meetings so many times that the company keeps contact information on each ex-offender’s case manager.

Wearing an ankle bracelet, either for GPS monitoring or as a part of a home detention schedule, presents a logistical challenge. A low battery or poor service can register someone as out of compliance, which can result in a visit from police and a disruption in schedule.

Ankle bracelets must be charged for an uninterrupted hour every 12 to 16 hours, said Tyler Bouma, executive director of Marion County Community Solutions, which oversees the program. The recommended schedule is one hour of charging in the morning, one hour in the evening.

Multiple employers said that often ex-offenders work in areas without good service – in elevators, underground or in warehouses – and the bracelets will indicate they’re out of compliance.

At Recycle Force, most of the 88 ex-offenders hired wear an ankle bracelet. If they start going off, Keesling said the workers know to call their case manager and go outside.

Questions about ankle bracelets
Indianapolis has embraced the use of GPS tracking devices to allow people to serve sentences out of jail and be monitored while awaiting trial.

There are about 4,300 residents wearing ankle bracelets. About 1,200 people await trial while the others wear them as a part of their conviction. The number has largely held steady since 2017, Bouma said.

The use of ankle bracelets boomed in the years after 2013 when the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1006, Hackett said. The legislation led to more people with low-level offenses sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons. That led to overcrowding in county jails, so offenders were released with ankle bracelets.

According to Hackett, who helps coordinate the Marion County Reentry Coalition, a coalition of employers, parole officers and other stakeholders raised concerns that ankle bracelets are a burden to accommodate and may not be necessary for those with lower-level offenses or people awaiting trial.

Bouma said he is interested in reexamining the use of ankle bracelets for people awaiting trial.

Bouma said the monitors are an important tool for those who could be a danger to the public, but those people are innocent until proven guilty. Whether someone gets a device before trial is up to the judge, he said.

“Ultimately, that’s not my decision to make. Our agency doesn’t decide who comes to us,” Bouma said.

Porter County’s pretrial release program may be fix for jail overcrowding in other Indiana counties

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NWI.com on 10/31/2019 by Dan Carden

VALPARAISO — Porter County’s innovative pretrial release program is being held up as a potential model for all Indiana counties to follow, especially those with bulging jail populations.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Jail Overcrowding Task Force, led by Supreme Court Justice Steven David, visited the Porter County Jail and Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso to learn how the jail’s population has sunk to what Sheriff David Reynolds said is its lowest level since the jail opened in 2001.

In short, every player in the Porter County criminal justice system, from the prosecutor and public defender to the sheriff’s office and the judges, have worked together to maximize pretrial release and improve attendance for court appearances, all while preserving public safety.

At the center of the process is a 33-question, roughly 15 minute, individual assessment of each person in the jail, measuring how likely it is the person will fail to appear for their court hearings or commit another crime while awaiting trial for the alleged offense that landed them in jail in the first place.

Individuals deemed low-risk might be required to post a small bond or be released without paying anything.

Higher-risk individuals similarly might not have to put up much money, but could be ordered to participate in a drug treatment program or meet other supervisory conditions to be released — at the judge’s discretion.

Melanie Golumbeck, Porter County chief probation officer, said that’s fairer than the traditional process of releasing anyone who can raise a certain amount of money based on their alleged crime.

It also better protects the community since riskier individuals often have to attend programs or regularly check in with law enforcement, she said.

“We have to keep in mind that these are individuals that have not been convicted of any offenses,” Golumbeck said. “Should we be punishing them on the front end?

She emphasized the consequences of keeping low-risk individuals in jail for extended periods — beyond the daily housing, food and health care costs to taxpayers — include the possibility that inmates will be forced to turn to crime once they get out, since it is difficult to maintain a job, home and family while locked up.

Besides Porter County, 10 other Hoosier counties have implemented similar strategies for reducing their jail populations, including Starke and St. Joseph counties in north central Indiana.

State Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, the architect of Indiana’s criminal code reforms enacted earlier this decade, said following the presentation that every county should follow the lead of Porter County to right-size their jail population and help put Hoosiers accused of crimes back on the right path.

David agreed. He said what’s going on in Porter County is “nothing short of extraordinary” by making sure individuals who can be helped are able to get help, rather than simply languishing in jail.

The task force is due to submit its recommendations for reducing jail overcrowding to the governor, chief justice and General Assembly by Dec. 1.

Volunteering This Weekend? Look Out for Trafficking Victims!

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Email from Katie McCall, CEO 3rd Millennium Classrooms

Did you know that “transient” people are more vulnerable to human trafficking? This includes the homeless, runaway youth, and those transitioning through the foster system. Traffickers often use promises of shelter, food and money as a lure for the homeless or other vulnerable populations into the horrendous world of trafficking.

According to Thorn, an anti-trafficking organization:

  • Studies consistently report that 50-90% of child sex trafficking victims have been involved in the child welfare system
  • A study conducted by Covenant House New York found that 1/5 of the homeless youth they surveyed in the U.S. and Canada were victims of human trafficking
  • In 2017, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims

Recently, traffickers have been taking it a step further and targeting these people at soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks. In some places, traffickers even sign up as volunteers as a way to get closer to victims.

If you are planning on volunteering over the holidays, please be on the lookout for victims. Look over our guide “Red Flags of Human Trafficking.” This guide provides practical tips on identifying victims and how to report them. Download it for free.

DCS troubles continue with arrest of former caseworker

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The Indiana Lawyer on 12/06/2019 by Marilyn Odenhahl

Despite the attention the Statehouse has given to the Indiana Department of Child Services in the past two years – hiring outside consultants to review the agency and passing numerous laws regarding policies and practices within the department – an arrest of a former caseworker on neglect charges is bringing another call for more changes.

Spencer Osborn of Anderson was indicted by a Madison County grand jury Dec. 2 for allegedly neglecting a child who was under his supervision as a DCS caseworker. Osborn was charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, Level 3 felonies, and one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury as a Level 5 felony.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he convened the grand jury because of the number of children who are still being harmed by their family members even though they are in the care of DCS. In 2018, the county recorded the deaths of five such children who were all under the age of 2.

“I think as a community we’re growing very weary of dead babies who were supervised by DCS,” Cummings said.

Osborn entered a not guilty plea at his initial hearing in Madison Circuit Court on Dec. 5 and has posted a $20,000 bond. The court scheduled a pretrial conference for Jan. 2, 2020.

In a statement, Osborn’s attorney Philip Sheward, partner at Allen Wellman McNew LLP in Fort Wayne, said Osborn was being used to push a legislative agenda.

“This criminal case appears to be part of a dispute between Madison County DCS and the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office. DCS caseworkers like Mr. Osborn have been caught in the middle,” Sheward said. “The Madison County Prosecutor’s Office is trying to legislate changes to Indiana’s child welfare laws through the prosecution of a criminal case. They hope that by prosecuting Mr. Osborn, our legislators feel forced to change our laws. Criminal prosecutions should not be a lobbying tactic.”

Cummings acknowledged he had been talking to legislators and is planning to travel to the Statehouse when the Indiana General Assembly convenes in 2020. Also, he said he has spoken several times with DCS director Terry Stigdon, and while he credited her for doing her best to make changes, he thinks the bureaucracy is too large and has been too slow to take a different approach.

In particular, the prosecutor criticized what he sees as the department’s push to reunify families even when that puts a child’s safety at risk. He detailed cases from Madison County of DCS workers not visiting the homes of families or checking on the children. As a result, he said, the youngsters are dying, including two who were murdered by their parents and one 4-month-old who died of a heroin overdose.

“Yes, it’s wonderful,” Cummings said of reunification, “but sometimes it puts the victims back in the hands of the people mistreating them.”

Stigdon released a statement after the arrest, saying DCS consults with partners across the child welfare system when making decisions about families and children. DCS family case managers, supervisors and county office leaders work regularly with community members, including judges, prosecutors, CASA volunteers, foster parents and attorneys, in determining how to keep children safe from abuse or neglect.

“These decisions are not made hastily nor in a silo,” Stigdon said. “Children’s lives are at stake and their safety and well-being are of the utmost importance.”

Sheward echoed Stigdon, indicating his client did not act alone.

“Mr. Osborn does not understand why he is being singled out and charged criminally for returning a child to his biological mother as part of a child in need of services case,” Sheward said. “These decisions are not made by a single caseworker, but in collaboration with their supervisors and child advocates, then ultimately approved by the court.”

Cummings maintains the only solution will come from the Legislature requiring DCS to put the safety of the children over the reunification of the family. The well-being of the child has to be paramount, he said.

However, Sheward and his client warned the arrest could have unexpected consequences.

“Filing criminal charges against DCS caseworkers based upon abuse perpetrated by parents on their overloaded caseload will lead to at least two terrible outcomes,” Sheward said. “First, DCS caseworkers will and should be terrified to ever recommend returning a child to a parent. More children will languish in the foster care system because of this fear. Second, there will be a mass exodus of DCS caseworkers, making the institutional problems worse. DCS caseworkers are already underpaid, overworked, and have near-impossibly high caseloads. Apparently, all DCS caseworkers are on notice that if they do not perform their job perfectly, prosecutors now wish to put them in prison.”

(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.

JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY IN ALLEN COUNTY STUDIED

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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly on 11/22/2019

Trine student assisting with assessment at Allen County Juvenile Center

ANGOLA — Sydney Stephan hopes to one day become an attorney specializing in family and elder matters.

She is preparing for that now by seeing how things work on the other side of the law.

Stephan, a Trine University freshman from Fort Wayne, is working with Kathy Armstrong, Steuben County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) coordinator, to assist in the Conditions of Confinement Facility Self-Assessment at the Allen County Juvenile Center in Fort Wayne.

The self-assessment is important for Steuben County because the county does not have a secure detention facility for juveniles, so it uses Allen County as its secure detention facility when needed.

“This is another reason it is critical to help identify alternatives for juveniles in the care of Steuben County,” Stephan said.

The assessment evaluates the conditions of Steuben County youths and others confined at the Allen County Juvenile Center. Conducted in cooperation with the Whitley County JDAI, it covers areas including: classification and intake; health and mental health care; access; programming; training and supervision of employees; environment; restraints, room confinement, due process and grievances; and safety.

Professionals including prosecuting attorneys, probation officers, sheriffs, pastors and principals are assisting with the effort. Working as individuals or teams, they will carry out separate assessments within the facility.

“We are assessing the living conditions of these juveniles and making sure the staff and facility is on task in all aspects of what is expected,” Stephan said.

In addition to making sure the facility is up to standards, the assessment also will evaluate certain juveniles to determine whether this type of confinement is necessary for their individual offense.

Stephan is assigned to the team assessing training and supervision of employees. She also will complete the final report for JDAI.

“I am proud of Sydney for agreeing to take on this role and gain real-world skills in working with professionals from Steuben and Whitley counties as a team to assess the facility,” said Jackie Delagrange, chair of Trine’s Department of Criminal Justice.

The university has been a partner with JDAI since 2017, when Cisco Ortiz, then chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, joined the organization’s steering committee.

“The JDAI coordinator, Kathy Armstrong, works hard to bring everyone to the table,” said Delagrange. “We have probation, courts (attorneys and a judge), Northeastern Center, Community Corrections, Trine’s Department of Criminal Justice and others that meet to help address juvenile detention in Steuben County.”

The self-assessment opportunity builds on prior experience Stephan had as a temporary legal assistant at a Fort Wayne law firm, working under attorneys who specialized in different areas. She plans to attend law school after graduating from Trine.

“The opportunity of working with the JDAI program introduces me to an area of criminal justice that I typically wouldn’t experience until after or later in my college career,” she said. “I think the best way of knowing what you want to do with your degree after college is through experience. When this opportunity came about, it was a no-brainer to participate.”

JDAI is a national effort partnering public, private and community organizations for juvenile justice system improvement. The initiative focuses on the reallocation of public resources from mass incarceration toward investment in youth, families and communities.

In Steuben County, JDAI is administered through the county’s Probation Department and overseen by Steuben Circuit Court Judge Allen Wheat.

New county program triples truancy referrals

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Kokomo Perspective on 12/3/2019 by Devin Zimmerman

bus

A new initiative in Howard County designed to stem student truancy is firing on all cylinders, with student referrals from local schools exploding over last year’s totals.

Earlier this year the makings of a new initiative began to take shape. Local judges noticed that student truancy referrals from schools were beginning to enter the court system in increasing numbers. Not only that but also the cases that came down the pipes were extreme, with students missing as many as 60 days of school, creating a situation where, by that point, service providers couldn’t help students salvage a school year.

But, now all of the area’s five school districts are on board with a plan to normalize truancy referral processes, ensuring intervention by the Howard County Department of Child Services (DCS) and Howard County Juvenile Probation Department at a point when students’ academic success still can be achieved.

“Ultimately, my goal is to make sure that children are protected. Part of that protection is making sure they’re educated and going to school. I think it’s really an important piece because kids, we all know, the more they’re educated, the better shot they have in the future,” said Stacy Morgan, director for Howard County DCS.

Indiana Supreme Court justice visits LaGrange County Monday

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The News Sun on 12/3/2019 by Patrick Redmond

Justice David visits LaGrange

Indiana State Supreme Court Justice Steven David spend Monday visiting LaGrange County to see how the local JDAI program is working. He spend about an hour Monday meeting with local attorneys talking about civility and ethics.

LAGRANGE — Indiana State Supreme Court Justice Steven David returned to LaGrange County Monday, a guest of JDAI program director Randy Merrifield.

David came to speak with local students in programs supported by the JDAI office and meet with local Amish businessmen.

David has been to LaGrange County three times in the last two years to learn more about LaGrange County’s JDAI program.

JDAI, short for Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, is a program designed to help teenagers avoiding incarceration in area juvenile facilities by reaching out to them before trouble happens. Justice David is a member of the state JDAI committee and an advocate of the program.

“It’s a very important program,” David said Monday. “We visited a high school, a middle school and an elementary school where they have a mentoring program. We visited with the high school seniors who are doing the mentoring and talked to some of the kids who are being mentored. We met with some high school administrators and talked about how important it is for the community to be involved. And I think the message I can take back to Indianapolis and our state JDAI steering committee is you have to get out into the community and see all the great work that’s being done, and the culture here in this county is nothing short of phenomenal. This community works together.”

JDAI appears to be paying off in Steuben County

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The Herald Republican on 12/3/2019 by Mike Marturello

ANGOLA — The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is paying dividends in Steuben County, its coordinator reported to the Steuben County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

While speaking before the commissioners, JDAI Coordinator Kathy Armstrong presented statistics showing three categories regarding juvenile detention in Steuben County.

The bottom line: There is a downward trend in the three main metrics she provided commissioners.

Perhaps most significant were reductions in the number of children sent to detention and the obvious cost of detention.

“I attribute this to everybody coming together and changing the perspective in the community on what we do,” Armstrong said.

The program focuses on reallocation of public resources from mass incarceration toward investment in youth, families and communities.

“This reinvestment provides an opportunity for lasting improvement to public safety,” said information provided by the Indiana Department of Corrections’ Division of Youth Services.

The goal of the program is to use more community based programs with the hope of keeping juveniles out of structured detention programs that often lead to juveniles becoming better delinquents.

Armstrong’s data said from juvenile referrals in the Steuben County court systems — through the Steuben Circuit Court — went from 159 in 2016 to 78 in the third quarter of 2019, though there was a spike in 2018.

POPAI and IACCAC Present at the Final Jail Overcrowding Task Force Meeting

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Indiana Office of Court Services on 12/02/2019

The County Jail Overcrowding Task Force was established in 2019 (IC 11-12-6.8) to conduct a statewide review of jail overcrowding and identify common reasons and possible local, regional and statewide solutions. The task force will also study the issue of reducing recidivism for convicted felons in county jails by offering programs that address mental health treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, education, and other evidence-based approaches.

On November 6, 2019 at Anderson University, POPAI and IACCAC made a joint presentation to the Task Force.  Watch the presentation here by fast-forwarding to the 1:30:30 mark:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9tRx3RFMyM&feature=youtu.be

The task force shall submit a report to the governor, chief justice, and legislative council by December 1, 2019.

IYI focuses on help, hope

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KPC News on 10/27/2019

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” — author Neil Postman

The Indiana Youth Institute, with the assistance of a $1.25 million grant from the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, is developing programs to assist children impacted by the opioid crisis.

The pilot projects, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Project Leadership, will serve youth in eight Indiana counties: five of the eight are rural and two have non-fatal opioid overdose rates that are significantly higher than the statewide rate.

The aim is to increase the number of youth who are mentored by an adult with specialized training in opioid addiction and related challenges.

Indiana ranks 16th in the nation for the number of drug overdose deaths. In 2017, 1,138 Hoosiers died from opioid drug overdoses, a 215% increase from 2012. Almost every Hoosier county has experienced opioid drug overdose deaths from heroin or prescription opioids in the past five years.

Tami Silverman, president of the IYI, said Indiana lacks “programs for kids when Mom or Dad has to go into treatment or prison. Kids are tired at school, not well fed and can’t learn because of the home environment. We have to address it at some point and the sooner the better.”

The pilot program nearest to us is with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Elkhart.

IYI serves professionals such as teachers, coaches, youth group leaders, foster parents and parents with local training and webinars.

In addition to the opioid pilot programs, Silverman said an important IYI focus is teen suicide prevention, especially through wellness initiatives provided by coaches who talk with young athletes about depression and anxiety.

“We have trained coaches (for) conversations with team members about nutrition, sleep, stress and anxiety,” Silverman said.

“We see more anxiety and depression among young people and unfortunately that corresponds to the suicide rate.”

Some people believe the stress caused by social media increases depression and anxiety.

“There is a lot of pressure on kids to get fantastic grades and be in a lot of activities to super achieve,” she said. “We have kids who feel stressed about achievement and we have kids who express stress because they don’t see a bright future for themselves.”

At Youth Worker Cafes — more than 200 across Indiana — IYI professionals have found top concerns are (1) anxiety and depression in youth and (2) overcoming barriers to mental health treatment.

In northeast Indiana, a Youth Worker Cafe is planned for Nov. 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Romer’s Restaurant, 211 S. Detroit St., LaGrange.

The event is free but advance registration is required at iyi.org or call 317-396-2700 or toll-free 800-343-7060.

In December, at IYI’s signature event — the annual Kids Count conference — more than 1,000 people will connect to gain knowledge and rejuvenation. It is the Midwest’s largest gathering of youth-serving professionals.

When we work to ease the challenges faced by our youth entire communities benefit.

OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.