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Lawrence County Receives DOC Grant To Help Fund Probation, Community Corrections
Updated November 18, 2015 8:15 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Probation and Community Corrections has received a grant from the Department of Corrections to help with case loads.

Director of Community Corrections Chad Shew told the Lawrence County Commissioners on Tuesday that those extra funds will be needed because the new criminal code recommends that most low-level felons serve their time in county jails or doing community corrections programs.

House Bill 1006, legislation sponsored by State Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) to reform Indiana's criminal code, was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence.

The law makes a variety of updates to the sentencing reforms passed in last year's criminal code legislation. Major changes under the legislation passed last year and this year include:

  • Changing the felony classification system from four to six levels, creating better proportionality in criminal sentencing.
  • Creating more certain sentences for offenders by reducing credit time.
  • Giving judges and prosecutors more discretion to sanction low-level offenders in local programs instead of sending them to prison.
  • Allowing the Department of Correction to transfer funds to local probation and community corrections programs if the sentencing reforms lead to a shift from state prisons to local programs.

To help curb that cost the Lawrence County Probation Department received a grant for $180,500, of that $20,500 will go to Community Corrections.

The county also received a $25,000 bonus check for their programs.

"The DOC respects what were are doing here in Lawrence County with our problem solving court and ADAPT and Domestic Violence Court," says Nedra Fleetwood, head of probation. "It says a lot for our community."

More than 200 people participate in those programs a year.

The money will be used to fund those programs and to hire two full-time and one part-time employee.

Currently the county has 17 probation officers. Of those 5 are currently paid with county funds and the others are paid with other grant funding. Each of those 17 probation officers are handling about 100 cases.

Currently there are 4 community correction officers with them each handling about 40 cases.

"With the new law going into affect in January we be housing more Level D felony offenders in our county jail. We are going to see an increase to our caseloads as those offenders are placed into programs and on probation," Fleetwood added.

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