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Money to go to community correction programming, aims to help jail overcrowding

Officials said there are offenders who qualify for programs like work release and home detention, but lack the money for necessary fees.

Posted: May. 15, 2018 10:50 PM
Updated: May. 15, 2018 10:50 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - As the offender population in the Vigo County Jail increases, so does the workload for some departments.

"We just adapt to that," said Community Corrections Director Bill Watson, "We make changes within our own internal operations and shift around duties and responsibilities to accommodate the offenders that come over."

On Tuesday, Watson addressed the Vigo County Council during their May meeting. He, along with members of the courts and prosecutor's office, was there to request $75,000 for community corrections programs.

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"It will address some of those offenders who are appropriate for community-based programming, but they or their families will lack funds," said Watson.

Watson said there are offenders who qualify for programs like work release and home detention but do not have the money to afford necessary fees. With this money, Watson said they'll be able to help those offenders get into the programs they need instead of remaining in the jail facility.

"It will help those people coming into work release for the time that they stay there," Watson said, "It'll help buy their food, those types of things until they find employment."

"With electronic monitoring, it will help them pay for the lease of their equipment that we have to get from a vendor for them," he added, "In return, they don't have that responsibility to worry about while they try to find employment, get into treatment programs they need, those types of things. It takes that big burden off them."

Council members approved the measure.

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"The council's willingness to do this and the court's willingness to put people in those programs has expanded that and that's something we look forward to," said Watson, "Getting those people out of the jail faster."

Council President Aaron Loudermilk told News 10 the council has been working with different county departments within the last several months.

"Community corrections, public defenders, the prosecutor's office, the judges, they've all worked together with us and they're exploring different options," said Loudermilk, "Once the final assessment comes out, I think the community is going to realize that we have a lot of programs in place, and we really are ahead of most communities in that regard."

Loudermilk said it's been a long process when it comes to the future of the Vigo County Jail. He says right now, the council is waiting on the final study to be completed.

"We're waiting to get that final report," said Loudermilk, "and I'm optimistic that will be in the near term, and we can move forward with what we need to do."

In other business, council members discussed the possibility of reevaluating the structure of local taxes in the county.

Loudermilk told News 10 by doing this, it would help the council find more efficient ways to move forward with some of the considerations on their plate with future taxes the county may potentially face.

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