Legislative Updates 2022


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‘Life-changing’ drug treatment program at Bartholomew County jail recognizes latest graduates

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WTHR on 12/01/2022 by WTHR Staff

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Bartholomew County sheriff is recognizing the graduates of BART, the jail’s drug treatment program.

BART stands for begin, accept, reveal and transform. Organizers call them core, clinical parts to bring about change in any person.

How does it work?

The program lasts 12 weeks and is completed in seven phases. The participants work with therapists for group treatment and individual sessions.

Column: Research team working to find a new way to approach probation and reduce recidivism

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Herald Times on 11/23/2022 by Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Michelle Ying, Carmen Diaz, Evan Lowder, and Eric Grommon

Note: The Herald Times allows a limited amount of free articles for readers.

The Herald Times’ Laura Lane recently reported on recidivism in Monroe County. In her story, she highlighted the life Mr. Robert Ratts, who has been in and out of jail, treatment, and probation since the early 2000s, accumulating 15 felony cases in nine years.

My colleagues and I are an Indiana University research team that has been working with Monroe County, and other research teams across the nation, for several years now to examine ways to reduce recidivism and improve probation success. We read Mr. Ratts’ and justice system stakeholders’ experiences and perceptions with great interest.

To shed further light on recidivism in Monroe County, we would like to take the opportunity to share findings from our review of 4,300 clients ordered to probation in Monroe County between 2014 and 2019. In our research, we found most clients were in violation of at least one of 20 standard conditions of probation supervision across a supervision term that averaged 12 months. Violations occurred primarily for missed probation appointments and substance use. Sixteen percent of clients were in violation of probation for a new criminal offense.

When responding to violations, probation officers weigh the severity of a violation, the caseloads to which clients are assigned, and client progress. Officers have more discretion in how to respond to missed appointments and substance use violations, but much less when a client has committed a new criminal offense. They often use their discretion to provide clients multiple opportunities for success. In fact, less than half of probation clients had a single violation that led officers to file a petition to revoke supervision with the Court.

Our findings suggest most violations are resolved through internal sanctions, given by a probation officer, and reinstatements to supervision that do not involve additional incarceration terms. Cycles of violations and justice system responses across a supervision term can place clients on a pathway leading to probation revocation, incarceration, and further entrenchment in the criminal-legal system. Repeated sequences of missed probation appointments, missed Court hearings, and substance use violations with or without a new offense shape Monroe County’s revocation and incarceration rates.

Less than 10% of clients follow this pathway. However, as demonstrated from Mr. Ratts’ experiences, this cycle consumes a large amount of justice system, treatment, and social service resources. Our research and the experiences of Mr. Ratts and justice system stakeholders beg fundamental questions of how to interrupt cycles of violations to increase probation success while protecting public safety. To facilitate change, we are working to implement three strategies.

First, probation officers are being trained to improve skills associated with motivational interviewing and case planning. This strategy encourages clients and probation officers to co-produce individualized plans, identify clients’ needs, and break down barriers affecting probation success.

Second, Monroe County justice system stakeholders are working to reduce and revise the standard conditions of probation, a strategy that seeks to move from a “detect and sanction” approach to cultivate a “support and coach” culture.

Third, clients and probation officers will be incentivized to improve successes and celebrate victories. Incentives have been shown to improve client outcomes and we will work to increase their use. Across these strategies, we are collecting feedback from clients, probation officers, and stakeholders to adjust implementation plans and evaluate the successfulness of these strategies.

Based on our findings and current best practices, these strategies will help stem probation revocations and recidivism in Monroe County and elevate the county as a leader in probation supervision reform efforts. Learn more about our prior research in Monroe County: https://www.co.monroe.in.us/department/?structureid=92. (This link has unlimited viewing)

Miriam Northcutt Bohmert, Michelle Ying, Carmen Diaz, Evan Lowder, and Eric
Grommon are part of an Indiana University research team working to document
and identify ways to reduce recidivism.

Dove Recovery House for Women Adds New Home in Dubois County

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Dove Recovery House on 12/02/2022

Marion County’s largest women’s recovery residence announces expansion plans to serve women in Dubois County who are struggling with substance use disorder

Today, during its Celebration Luncheon & Dessert Auction fundraising event at the Biltwell Event Center, Dove Recovery House for Women announced plans to open a new location in Dubois County by the end of 2022. The new Dove House facility is located at 1480 Knust St. in Jasper, Indiana, and will house up to 15 women, addressing a significant treatment gap, as the county currently does not have a recovery residence for women impacted by substance use disorder.

“The financial burden of treatment is one of the main reasons people do not seek help,” said Wendy Noe, Dove House Executive Director. “Another barrier we often see is proximity to services. This expansion into Dubois County will address both of these common barriers to getting help by providing free services in a community that does not have the life-saving programs Dove House offers.”

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Q&A with the Honorable Jeffrey R. Smith, Spokane County District Court, Mental Health Therapeutic Court and DUI Therapeutic Court

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Policy Research Associates on 11/10/2022

You’ve spent time considering the experience of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system with mental health disorders. What is your personal and professional background relevant to this area of work?

On a professional level, my connection to this work is unique. My journey to the bench is out of the norm. I practiced medicine for 18 years before going to law school. First, I practiced with a cardiac and thoracic surgery team. Then I transitioned into family practice as a primary care provider (PCP). My medical background gives me an interesting perspective when working with individuals with mental health challenges. When somebody in the courtroom looks tired or behaves oddly, I try to find out what medications they are taking. Similarly, when looking at urine analysis test results, I have a better and deeper understanding than most judges because of my medical experience.

I haven’t shared my personal background with many people, but my dad had significant bipolar disorder and an alcohol use disorder. As a result, I went through childhood watching my dad self-destruct. I didn’t know what I was watching or experiencing as a child, but I knew it didn’t feel good. My dad would get into trouble and be away from the family. Then he would come back and be okay for a while. Eventually, though, he would self-destruct again.

I have wondered what might have happened had my dad had the opportunity to engage in treatment for his co-occurring disorders. Maybe things would have turned out differently for him. It certainly would have had a lesser impact on our family. The flip side of that is that the experience prepared me for what I do now.

As a judge, you see and hear the lived experience of individuals in crisis. How has this work transformed your perspective of what it is like for those involved in the criminal justice system?

Frankly, I’m clueless about what barriers somebody must overcome to get into the courtroom because after I park in my reserved parking spot, I walk through a special door to a special elevator up to my chambers and then out to the bench. In contrast, there are many barriers that folks have to surmount to get into the courtroom, let alone navigate the legal system in general.

They’ve got to find a place to park, and parking around our courthouse is horrible. It is also not cheap. Or they have to find a ride or take the bus. They may need to arrange childcare. Then, getting through the door, there are security and magnetometers. Individuals have to remove their belts and shoes. Once inside, mental barriers are associated with figuring out which courtroom you’re supposed to be in, which may change daily.

Even after finding the correct courtroom, individuals are faced with the room’s design and can be intimidated when they don’t know where to sit or how to act.

Mental health adds a whole other layer. It’s not uncommon to have individuals come in who are off their medications or have medications that need to be adjusted. That means the person across from me could be experiencing auditory hallucinations, for example, and not even hearing what I’m saying to them.

I learned of a professional conference where a presenter was speaking to a group of judges, and at one point, unrelated audio started playing from one of the speakers. The presenter kept talking as if nothing was happening. Eventually, the judges in the audience spoke up and said they couldn’t follow what was being said and that somebody needed to turn the audio off. It turned out it was a mini social experiment for the audience to understand and experience what it’s like to have auditory hallucinations and how difficult it is to focus or follow directions.

I think having an awareness of mental illness is essential for judges. We work with people who may be unmedicated or experiencing side effects from their medications. Individuals may be dealing with things mentally that they have no control over. Maybe the person is experiencing depression such that they can’t stay awake. Perhaps they are in a manic phase and cannot pay attention because they’re bouncing all over the place.

I think those are real issues in my court every day. Therefore, having a team that understands these issues is a priority for me. A well-trained and trauma-informed staff of prosecutors, public defenders, caseworkers, and probation officers will do a better job helping individuals navigate the system.


Read the full interview here

Motivating Offenders to Change: A Guide for Probation and Parole

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National Institute of Corrections

This publication “provides probation and parole officers and other correctional professionals with both a solid grounding in the principles behind MI [motivational interviewing] and a practical guide for applying these principles in their everyday dealings with offenders” (p.2). Seven chapters are contained in this guide: how MI fits in with evidence-based practice; how and why people change; the motivational interviewing style; preparing for change; building motivation for change; navigating through tough times–working with deception, violations, and sanctions; and from start to finish–putting MI into practice.

Download the pdf resource (100 pgs)

Lawrence County JDAI drafts detention screening tool designed to reduce the number of youth in secure detention

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LAWRENCE COUNTY – It has been said that “Children are one-third of our population and all of our future,” and this long-standing sentiment continues to ring true in Lawrence County.

The youth of Lawrence County remain a high priority as well as the services provided to this valuable group. To ensure effective services continue to be offered to the youth and their caregivers, continued evaluation of services and necessary modification of these services must occur. A prime example of this evaluation and modification process can be seen in the recent work of the Lawrence County JDAI.

Lawrence County JDAI initiated in January 2020 and, despite the timing, the work has been unceasing. JDAI stands for Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative and was founded nationally by the Annie E. Casey Foundation more than twenty-five years ago.

Lawrence County JDAI is led by its Co-Coordinators, Katie Messmann, Nedra Brock-Fleetwood, and Scott Wedgewood. Anah Hewetson Gouty acts as the presiding judicial officer for Lawrence County JDAI. The initiating goal of JDAI was to reduce the placement of juveniles in secure detention. An additional goal of this leadership group was to involve many Lawrence County youth-focused agencies in the evaluation and redesign process.