Ripley County judges, Carl Taul, circuit court and James Morris, superior court, have both withdrawn their support for the Community Correction Program and have said they will not use the program, even if it is established.
Prosecutor Ric Hertel said he was very disappointed the court did not see the value in the $169,000 in additional services that would have been available through a grant from the Indiana Department of Corrections, IDOC.
In April of this year, local officials received a notice that the IDOC had determined Ripley County was qualified for the $169,000 grant to be used to establish the program.
The Community Corrections Program could consists of programs such as work release, in-home detention, daily reporting, and a drug court program. In essence, it could give the drug offender a chance to get clean, an opportunity to get their life together.
The program would have been operated through an Advisory Board, that was to be comprised of several law enforcement groups, judges, probation, citizens, ex-offenders, victims, and more.
Initially, the judges agreed it would be a beneficial program to the county. Ripley County is one of the eleven counties in the state (92 counties) that does not have some type of community corrections program like this.
The County Commissioners were on board with the idea and passed an ordinance, with Judge James Morris preparing the first draft. On Nov. 30 the commissioners appointed the advisory board members. Ten days later, the judges sent a letter to the commissioners withdrawing their support and copying those people who had just been appointed.
In an email sent on Monday, Dec. 17 from Judge Carl Taul, to Dalton Haney, program director for community corrections, it read in part, “Judge Morris and I have sent a letter to the Ripley County Commissioners office, with a copy to your office, advising them that the courts in this county will not support a community correction program in this county at this time. Let me be clear. I will make no appointments to the advisory board, I will not serve on the advisory board and no probation officer will serve on the board. We will not participate in any way. We will not attend any meeting nor serve on any drug court.”
The director of Community Based Programs, Mike Lloyd responded to the email saying he hoped in the future Ripley County would be a community corrections grant county.
Prosecutor Hertel said, “The prosecutor's office continues to believe that the additional alternatives provided by the grant, specifically an effective work release program, in-home detention program, daily reporting program and a drug court program, would be a benefit to the citizens of Ripley county, both to the offender and the community as a whole.”
He went on to thank the many individuals who have contacted him who were excited about all the new services that could have come to Ripley County. He told The Versailles Republican he shares in their frustration of not having the opportunity to have the program here.
The prosecutor thanked the commissioners for the support and attempt to provide more services to Ripley County, as well as the advisory board who had agreed to give their time, knowledge and experience, in order to serve.