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July 3, 2013

Life after prison: Local judge says funding makes it tough to keep people from coming back

(Continued)

> SOUTHERN INDIANA —

Cash-strapped counties do what they can despite limited resources and heavy caseloads. Risk assessments aid in identifying potential problems, but funds and time to provide the programs aren’t always easy to come by. 

“We can pinpoint where the needs are now. But the problem is it’s the time.” Poukish said. “When you’re sitting on a caseload of 200 offenders, it’s nearly impossible with all the other responsibilities probation has, and the courts too, to spend that time with them.”

Moore said unfunded state mandates don’t make matters any easier. 

During the past few legislative sessions, he said the Indiana General Assembly has attempted to divert some of the state prison population to the county level. Overcrowding continues to be a concern for many corrections agencies. Yet, Moore laments that no money nor additional resources accompany the shift. 

“Funding is going to be the name of the game,” Moore said. “Prisoner management is really becoming a big part of our job. We’re really hoping the money will follow the order right down I-65 [from Indianapolis] so the county can be helped.”

 

ADDICTION EPIDEMIC

Fewer funding options can affect local programs. Clark and Floyd counties have only a couple of treatment facilities to treat alcohol and drug dependencies. Hindering matters more, Louisville programs cannot be used due to federal laws on sentencing and jurisdiction. 

Research shows those participating in addiction programs both during and after prison are three times less likely to be arrested than those not receiving therapy. Adding to the appeal, treatment programs are considerably less expensive than incarceration, sometimes amounting to only a third of the cost of imprisonment. Random drug testing by the courts also provides accountability to the newly released.

Considering a 2010 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 65 percent of inmates in America met the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction yet only 11 percent receive treatment during incarceration, lack of therapy options can cause major roadblocks to effective re-entry.

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