News and Tribune

September 26, 2013

Report: Clark County Community Corrections saves taxpayers $1.67 million

Department presents annual report to commissioners

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — More than 400 inmates that could have been kept in the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex or Indiana Department of Corrections facilities were instead diverted to Clark County Community Corrections, according to the department’s annual report.

That means a savings for taxpayers of $1.67 million, said Community Corrections Executive Director Steve Mason, who along with Work Release Director Danielle Grissett presented the department’s annual report to the Clark County Commissioners Thursday.

The report covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

A total of 403 inmates served a sentence in a Community Corrections program, among which are home incarceration, community transition, work release and day reporting.  

Grissett told the commissioners that Community Corrections is working to find more offenders from other counties to serve sentences in its programs, as the department still has in excess of 60 vacant beds in its facility, which occupies the third floor of the jail.

“We’re not getting as many referrals as we would like to from this county, so we’re trying to reach out and get referrals where we can get them,” Grissett said. “Washington County’s been a big supporter.”

All of the department’s operations are now running out of the same area, Mason said.

Community Corrections’ operations are paid for through a grant from IDOC and user fees paid by inmates. The most lucrative program is work release, which generates an average of $39.09 per offender per day.

“Any person that we don’t have to have incarcerated in the jail certainly saves us money,” said Commissioner John Perkins. Perkins commended Mason and Grissett for doing what the commissioners had asked of them in the wake of an incident in June in which Mason had been informed he was fired by Chief Probation Officer Henry Ford after Mason refused to add hours to an employee’s time sheet that Mason said were not worked. Mason’s firing was later found to be invalid by the Clark County Community Corrections Advisory Board.

“I think some of those summertime wounds are healed and healing, and having all the people physically over there in the same place and rearranging some of those job descriptions — I think people are getting along a bit better,” said Circuit Court Judge Dan Moore, who serves as president of the advisory board. “There’s a new burst of energy to try to reach out to these other counties. I think it’s a plus.”

Both Community Corrections and the Clark County Probation Department operate home reporting programs. Perkins said he’d like to see the two consolidated.

Mason welcomed additional scrutiny of his department by the commissioners.

“I’d like to reiterate that any time you’d like to stop by and see what we’re doing, we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We don’t ever close,” Mason said, drawing a laugh from those in attendance.



PAYING THE TAXMAN HIS DUE

Even Clark County can’t escape the long reach of the Internal Revenue Service.

The commissioners unanimously voted to declare an emergency and pay $10,635.51 from the cumulative capital fund toward a $30,000 penalty levied against the county by the IRS.

The penalty had been $56,000 before County Attorney Jake Elder negotiated a reduced amount, and was owed because the county had paid employees of one department doing work in another through an IRS 1099 form instead of as regular income in 2010.

“That’s a no-no for the IRS,” said Auditor R. Monty Snelling. “If they’re an employee, it has to go on their salary. That way, they keep track of it. That was one of the biggest problems we had.”

County employees who had received 1099s can expect to receive updated tax paperwork, Snelling said.