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Lake County offender program wins grant

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



CROWN POINT — The Indiana Department of Correction has awarded Lake County Community Corrections a $2.5 million grant to operate its programs.

Lake County achieved a Level 1 designation, meaning it had demonstrated a “high amount of substantiation” that it has implemented evidence-based practices shown by research to reduce recidivism among offenders.

The grant includes $2,238,107 in operating funds for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $279,770 for the community transition program.

In the fiscal year that began mid-2009, Lake County Community Corrections served 777 adult offenders, either through a community transition program at the end of a prison sentence, for offenders sentenced directly to the program or for those receiving a split sentence of DOC time and community corrections, executive director Kellie Bittorf said.

“If we didn’t have funding to operate, all these people would be going to prison or coming out without these services,” she said.

It costs about $29 per day to house a defendant in the community corrections program, compared with about $54 per day to house a defendant in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Offenders in the Lake County program pay $10 per day or 25 percent of their salary, whichever is greater.

Lake County Community Corrections’ primary programs are the Kimbrough Work Program and day reporting, which is an electronic monitoring or home detention program, Bittorf said.

Staff members conduct a risk-needs assessment on offenders, looking at employment, mental health and substance abuse history, family support and other factors, and develop a case plan for the individual.

Some offenders need to work on their GED or get a job. Others need help with life skills, such as parenting classes, anger management or substance abuse counseling.

Most of the programs are offered in-house, Bittorf said. The county has hired a full-time facilitator to provide and coordinate the programs, and volunteers also assist in that process.

In addition, the agency also has a full-time quality assurance manager to ensure that programs are being implemented to standards.

Meanwhile, Lake County is set to convene its first session of community transition court Monday afternoon. That court also will work with offenders to help transition them into society and reduce the county’s recidivism rate.



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