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July 19, 2013

Clark County commissioners officially ‘hire’ corrections director

Commissioners call for punitive action against chief probation officer


On June 28, Clark County Community Corrections Executive Director Steve Mason thought he had been fired from his job after a conversation with Chief Probation Officer Henry Ford. 

But Thursday, a day after Mason learned he’d be returning to duty after a paid leave of absence, the Clark County Commissioners officially ratified Mason’s hiring — as they’d never weighed in on the matter before — and declined to sign off on a letter to Ford because it wasn’t punitive enough in nature. 

The commissioners signed off on two letters recommended by the Clark County Community Corrections Advisory Board — one addressed to Mason and another addressed to Mason and his staff. Mason is notified in the first that his paid leave of absence is to conclude today, that he is required to attend both commissioners’ and advisory board meetings, and that he is to rely more on Work Release Director Danielle Grissett as a liaison between his department and others. 

In the second letter, expectations are outlined for the operations of the department. However, the commissioners asked that a clause in the document be removed prior to their approval because it calls for two employees who manage the county’s home-incarceration and day-reporting programs be transferred to the probation department under Ford’s supervision because it could affect the grant that funds community corrections. 

According to Grissett, the grant — which is funded by the Indiana Department of Correction — may be jeopardized because the grant specifically calls for the two programs to be run through the county’s community corrections department. The total amount of the grant is $693,978, which includes $100,187 for home incarceration and $24,322 for day reporting. The commissioners authorized Grissett to further investigate the impact of transferring the two programs to probation. 

Circuit Court Judge Dan Moore, who appeared before the commissioners to present the letters to Mason and his staff for the board’s approval, also asked the board to approve an advisory letter to Ford informing him that he lacked the authority to fire Mason, with or without the direction of Judge Vicki Carmichael, who Ford said ordered him to do so. 

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