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January 30, 2014

Grant for Juvenile Detention Center denied by Clark County Commissioners

Commissioners unsure if funds would be put to good use

JEFFERSONVILLE — A request for a $95,000 grant from the Indiana Judicial Center’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, or JDAI, was unanimously denied by the Clark County Commissioners at the board’s Thursday meeting.

    The item was previously tabled at the Jan. 16 meeting after the Clark County Council approved two new positions within JDAI — a local coordinator and juvenile probation officer — that would be funded by that proposed grant money. Circuit Court Judge Vicki Carmichael brought the request to the table in an effort to support the local juvenile detention center that is “busting at the seams.”

    The juvenile detention center has 14 beds but often as many as 26 children who are in the facility, and many part-time employees are working full-time hours.

    Commissioner John Perkins motioned to deny the request because he said he isn’t sure the two positions would be sustainable.

    “I don’t think that there’s any way that we can guarantee that when this grant runs out, that [the new hires] wouldn’t either No. 1, file for unemployment ... or that you might mandate that this salary be added,” he said.

    Carmichael distributed an email conversation at the meeting that involved several employees of the Indiana Judicial Center and Indiana Department of Correction. Mike Lloyd, director of Transitional Facilities and Community Based Programs for IDOC, wrote in one of the emails that Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Dan Moore “asked if it is possible to suspend the JDAI grant for up to six months.” Lloyd, along with Michael Dempsey, executive director of youth services for the IDOC, agreed with Moore’s suggestion via email.

    “I urge you to ignore the request of Judge Moore, who has no juvenile jurisdiction and no reason to deny the children and families in Clark County the opportunity to continue on the journey to finding alternatives to detention,” Carmichael said, reading from a prepared statement. “Judge Moore doesn’t see these juvenile cases four days a week. I do.”

    Michelle Tennell, statewide director of JDAI, was at the meeting to vouch for the program’s statewide success and statewide allocation of $5.5 million for the sole purpose of increasing JDAI services.

    “The legislature has decided to support this as a way to increase and enhance the likelihood that we will not see as many kids in the system today become a part of the adult criminal system,” Tennell said.

    Commissioner Rick Stephenson said though he was initially torn on his decision, he seconded to deny the request because he doesn’t want to waste money on something that may fail, despite Tennell’s reassurance that it wouldn’t.

    “I’ve got a real problem with the fact that Clark County courts and probation are a mess, and until that’s rectified, I’m not going to put $95,000 of taxpayer money in it,” Stephenson said.

Carmichael was not available for comment after the vote.



    The commissioners also voted 3-0 to renew ambulance services in the county.

    Yellow Services of Southern Indiana and New Chapel EMS will enter a five-year agreement that automatically will be renewed at the end of the term.

    The two ambulance services now will be referred to as “providers,” according to the contract.


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