County News_logoTuesday morning Ward Byers from Court Service and Dean Colvin from Marshall Superior Court II appeared before the County Commissioners to discuss transitioning to Community Corrections.

Recent changes in sentencing guidelines will now have all level 6 felons staying in the county jail instead of being house by the Indiana Department of Corrections.  That will create an influx of inmates and as a way to avoid overcrowding the jail nearly every county in Indiana, all but 4 has moved to Community Corrections.

Byers said Marshall County is eligible for a $245,100 grant from the Indiana Department of Corrections.   The grant would fund services which must be provided to level 6 felons who are staying local.  Community Corrections can help facilitate those services which should help reduce recidivism such as cognitive thinking, substance abuse and alcohol education.  Offenders would also receive assistance in finding employment, reuniting or reconnecting with family, assist with education, and help get reestablished back into the community.

A 17 member advisory board would oversee the program with many of the seat being mandates through state statue.  Members would serve a 4 year term.  They have oversight of the grant and it’s spending.

Having the grant will allow the county to apply for other grants through the Department of Mental Health for services for offenders such as substance abuse and mental health services.  Byers said vouchers would also be available for those who have trouble finding transportation to provide service through Jackie Wright’s programs.

Commissioner Overmyer asked what a level 6 felon is.  Byers said an example could be a habitual traffic violator or a first offence with marijuana.

The grant is a yearly contract and the county has the opportunity to decline or accept each year.  After additional discussion the Marshall County Commissioner suspended the rules and passed the ordinance establishing a Community Corrections Program in Marshall County during their meeting Monday.

Ward Byers will be the guest on WTCA’s What’s Your Opinion Show on Wednesday about 9:15.  Tune in with your comments and questions.