POPAI Note: John Bush of Delaware County Probation is our 2022 Line Probation Officer of the Year. This is another step for the growth of the program.

MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball Brothers Foundation awarded a $60,000 grant to help launch the Judicial Users Manufacturing Partnership (JUMP) in Delaware County.

As a collaboration between the Delaware County probation system, Ivy Tech’s WorkMatters initiative and 23 local manufacturing companies, JUMP directly connects those who have faced prosecution in Delaware County courts — referred to in a release as “justice-involved individuals” — with “meaningful employment and wrap-around support.”

“Perpetual poverty” is the strongest predictor of recidivism in the criminal justice system, according to a release issued by Ball Brothers Foundation. The JUMP program seeks to give formerly incarcerated individuals “employable skills and access to stable jobs and income, while also reducing “critical labor shortages” in Delaware County’s manufacturing sector.

There are more than 400 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the county, according to the Muncie Manufacturing Alliance.

“We are proud to be a part of a community collaboration effort that helps solve multiple problems,” said Stephen Brand, general manager at Magna Powertrain — one of the 23 employers involved in the program. “It can lower the crime rate and reduce the burden on the judicial system, while trying to get people back into the productive workforce.”

The program will also utilize Ivy Tech’s WorkMatters initiative to offer educational opportunities, including non-credit certifications and enrollment in degree-seeking programs to obtain workforce credentials.

“We believe that education is the catalyst,” said Jeff Scott, chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Muncie campus. “Training and skills development can provide a pathway for these individuals to avoid the revolving door of the justice system and become productive, positive members of our community,”

The JUMP program was proposed by John Bush, a veteran Delaware County probation officer with years of experience in trying to help those who have been released from custody find employment.

“The justice system has to learn to be a source of inspiration for individuals who are considering change,” Bush said. “The justice system has to try and educate and assist these individuals — who are in a stage of crisis in their life — to find another way.”

A coordinator for the program is expected to hired soon.

Jud Fisher, president and CEO of Ball Brothers Foundation, said that organization was “committed to strengthening programs that support workforce development.

“The JUMP program has already shown great promise, and we hope that with the funding granted and a dedicated coordinator, the program will continue to grow and further support our community’s needs,” Fisher said.