Commissioners approve grant applications

BEDFORD – The Lawrence County Commissioners gave their approval for Lawrence County to continue to be a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) county.

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty told the commissioners Tuesday morning that the county has received a grant for around $89,179 from the Indiana Department of Corrections to participate in the initiative and requested permission this morning to apply for the grant again.

“The increased and unnecessary use of secure detention exposes troubled young people to an environment that more closely resembles adult prisons and jails than the kinds of community and family-based interventions proven to be most effective,” said Judge Gouty when talking about the program. “It disrupts their education and has long-term effects. We plan to avoid detention at all cost unless it is a danger to the public and the community.”

A recent literature review of youth corrections shows that detention has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being, their education, and their employment.

“Most importantly, there is credible and significant research that suggests that the experience of detention may make it more likely that youth will continue to engage in delinquent behavior, and that the detention experience may increase the odds that youth will recidivate, further compromising public safety,” Judge Gouty added.

Overseeing the program in Lawrence County will be Judge Nathan Nikirk of the Lawrence Circuit Court, Judge Anah Hewetson Gouty, Lawrence County Chief Probation Officer Nedra Brock-Fleetwood, as well as the Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Scott Wedgewood, and Katie Messmann, who will serve as the JDAI Coordinator for Lawrence County.

For more than 20 years nationally in both urban and rural jurisdictions, the JDAI has demonstrated that moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs is an excellent public policy.

The commissioners also approved two grant application requests from Chief Probation Officer Nedra Brock-Fleetwood. All of the grants have been awarded to the county in the past.

The first was a $10,000 grant for Lawrence County Superior Court II problem-solving drug court with Judge Bob Cline presiding The funds will be used for incentives and graduation for those who do well in the program.

The second grant is in the amount of $10,000 for Lawrence County Superior Court I problem-solving domestic violence court with Judge John Plummer III presiding. The money will be used for incentives, to purchase learning materials, and for graduation for those who do well in the program.