Introduction and History
Wells County Community Corrections consists of six (5) program components:
- Community Service Restitution
- Electronic Monitoring Home Detention
- Electronic Monitoring Work Release supervision
- Thinking 4 Change (T4C)
- Community Transition Program (C.T.P.)
Wells County Community Corrections was started in July 1990 with a grant from the Indiana Department of Correction. The department originally consisted of Electronic Monitoring/Home Detention and Community Service Restitution. Over the years the department has developed additional programs. These programs include: the Work Release Supervision Program, the jail site G.E.D. Program (the first continuing education program in the jail.
Eight full time employees staff the department and a part time intern: Director, Field Operations Coordinator Officer, two Field Officers, two Case Manager Techs, Administrative Assistant, and Training/Education Coordinator. In addition, the Wells County Community Corrections Advisory Board, established pursuant to the Indiana Code 11-12-2-3, assists the department.
The Advisory Board, which meets the second Tuesday on the months of January, March, May, September and November, at 11:45 a.m. in the Courthouse, provides input in the development of the Community Corrections Plan and application for financial aid. In addition, the Advisory Board observes the operation of Community Corrections in the County and makes recommendations to the County Commissioners for contracts with local government or non-governmental agencies who desire to participate in the Community Corrections plan. The Board also performs other duties as outlined in the by-laws of the Wells County Community Corrections Advisory Board.
($1 per hour assigned & $4.50 one-time insurance fee.)
The Community Service Program Component consists of various work sites, either governmental or in the not-for-profit sector. The offender will perform specific work activities for the agency. The offenders will be assigned to a work site and will be required to perform work as directed for the set amount of hours that were established by the Court at the time of sentencing. While a participant in the program, the offender agrees to random drug testing. The offender is charged a user fee of $1.00 per hour assigned to the program and a $4.50 fee for insurance coverage while on the program. In addition, the offender agrees to pay the cost associated with any drug test, which at present is $25.00. The offender is also required to come once a month to check-in in order to keep track of the hours completed. To further motivate the completion of the Community Service hours, a $50.00 re-referral fee is assessed for those offenders who are violated from the Community Service Program and are re-assigned by the Court. The following list shows all of the governmental agencies and not-for-profit sites used by Wells County:
- 4-H Park
- Animal Shelter
- Christmas Behind Bars
- Ouabache State Park
- Town of Ossian
- Wells County Courthouse
- Recycling Center
- Wells County EMS
($50 one-time hookup fee & $13 per day.)
The Home Detention Program Component consists of electronic monitoring of offenders in lieu of incarceration, post-trial, as well as pre-trial/pre-adjudicated for both juveniles and adults. The offenders are responsible for providing Community Corrections with a schedule of all of their activities for the week in advance. The offender is permitted to attend their employment and other Court ordered activities, such as AA, NA, Anger Control Counseling, etc. There is a mandatory weekly check-in, at which time the offender submits a detailed schedule for the upcoming week advising of all departures from the home and arrival time back to the home. They are required to submit to random drug testing. By having this program in place, it allowed the Sheriff to hold DOC inmates in the Wells County Jail. This allowed for additional monies to be collected and returned to the County General Fund, which offset the operational expense of the jail. It should be noted that a majority of these individuals are in the target population, which constitutes a number of Probation Violations, A Misdemeanors, and Felony charges.
We currently are also employing alcohol compliance testing in the home with alcohol detection equipment from two companies, which also provide our electronic tethering equipment. Another capability of the Department is the utilization of Global Position Satellite Tracking of offenders, which allows the highest level of supervision available to Law Enforcement and the Courts.
($5 per day fee.)
The Work Release Supervision component consists of electronic monitoring of offenders who are sentenced to the Wells County Jail when the court has recommended Work Release. These offenders are monitored while outside the jail, via a leg transmitter and a drive-by unit (same technology as Electronic Monitoring/Home Detention). The offenders are responsible for providing Community Corrections with a schedule of activities a week in advance. The offender is permitted to attend their employment and other Court ordered activities. They are required to submit to random drug testing. The offenders are also responsible for all their own medical expenses, which is a savings to the jail budget. Wells County Community Corrections has also developed job placement services for inmates. The offenders also pay $5.00 per day to Community Corrections for the monitoring service which covers the operational expense for administering the supervision. This program is also a savings to the county because the monitoring service offsets the hiring of additional individuals for specifically supervising Work Release inmates for the jail.
($45 fee for this class)
Thinking for a change is an integrated cognitive behavior program instituted by the National Institute of Corrections. Instructors, certified by the state, facilitate offender groups, teaching good skills in dealing with other people. It maximizes a positive response and minimizes negative responses from other people.
Community Transition Program (CTP) is a program developed by the Indiana Department of Corrections and is supervised and implemented by the Indiana Community Corrections facilities. The program works in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Corrections to give felons the opportunity for re-entry into the community prior to their original release date.
It is my ongoing intention, as Director of the Department, to explore new technologies to aid in the combination of additional services while being fiscally responsible and prudent. We are continually maintaining a computer modernization initiative. This effort has consisted of maintaining a case management software and database program. In the past year we have added two laptop computers for the Field Officers, which has allowed for the reduction of lost time in extra steps that are required with the intake and information gathering. We also are always updating and maintaining Pentium computer stations and have established an inter-office network.
I am also continually researching new program possibilities and technologies to further develop an increasing level of excellence of services, which we provide to the community. This can best be seen by such developments as the T.4C. Program, the ongoing use of alcohol sensing units that work in conjunction with the Electronic Monitoring systems, and the second year implementation of Global Positioning Satellite Tracking that is currently being used for pre-adjudicated Electronic Monitoring/House Arrest Program, which deals with alleged domestic violence arrests.
I am maintaining the concept of transition sentencing alternatives for Wells County. The transition continuum includes programs such as, T4C “Thinking for a Change”, while allowing the potential for eligibility of Work Release and the use of Electronic Monitoring/House Arrest to introduce offenders back into the community. The Community Service Restitution program keeps offenders, who meet the requirements, from adding to the number of incarcerations. All these programs allow the Courts, Prosecutor and Probation the finest quality of sentencing alternatives, instead of having additional offenders incarcerated in the Department of Corrections prison system. These programs also provide an economically effective system of rehabilitation that covers issues such as life skills, education and employment. In the spirit of innovative concepts, we are currently exploring financial resources for the possible implementation of new programs and equipment for Superior Court. In the last year, we have taken on the issue of domestic violence, and in conjunction with the above mentioned departments and the Domestic Violence Task Force, have made great strides in better understanding and dealing with these cases.
It is my observation that Wells County Community Corrections is fulfilling the intentions that brought about its implementation in 1990. The goal of the program was to reduce the number of offenders sentenced to the DOC and the Wells County Jail. This can be seen by the number of offenders placed in our County Jail that are from other counties and the DOC. It is further noted that the Community Corrections program income continues to move toward being financially self-sufficient. This is the reason offenders are required to pay for services rendered by this Department. The estimated tax impact reaches other governmental support services such as welfare, food stamps, Township Trustee, medical care, etc., which would have resulted in additional tax revenues to be possibly imposed for the individuals or their families who may resort to these programs.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those who are instrumental in continuing the services that we provide to the Community. I first wish to thank my staff who keep us on top of everything, the Advisory Board members who always provide insight for the issues we deal with, the County Commissioners and the County Council. I also wish to thank those agencies in law enforcement, the courts, and the governmental and not for profit agencies. We have established the fact that the community benefits and is truly represented by the Wells County Community Corrections Department.
Blake T Poindexter