Marion County probation ending transportation for community service work

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Criminal defendants ordered to perform community service work will have to get to their destinations without a ride from the Marion County Probation Department as the result of a program change adopted Friday.

Judges of the Marion Superior Executive Committee approved the move and the hiring of a coordinator who will connect work crews to their community service obligations at program partners such as the Department of Public Works, Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis Housing Agency and numerous community organizations.

Chief probation officer Christine Kerl said the move was among several program changes criminal judges reviewed. The cost of running the program including transportation was $6.71 per community service hour performed, Kerl said, and the change is projected to lower the cost to $1.81 per hour.

Kerl said the change wasn’t a budget issue, but that the program as it had been structured “was not producing as we thought it should have been.” Judges approved the change but asked for a report in one year.

“It’s a hotly contested item because a lot of people are very fond of the model,” Executive Committee Chairman Judge David Certo said.

Kerl said the department spent about $22,000 on fuel for the program last year, but that doesn’t include staff time or expenses for department-owned vans. She said 23 percent of the approximately 139,000 community service hours in 2012 were served in-house at the probation department.


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