ILNews

Rehab, not jail, shows promise in lowering recidivism

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In Knox County, the threat of incarceration is met with a shrug.

Substance abuse, with methamphetamine being the drug of choice, is putting many behind bars again and again. For some, drug and alcohol abuse begins as young as 8 years old and being arrested is just part of the routine.

“Sometimes (being imprisoned) does give a wake up call,” said Rev. Peter Haskins, “but to a lot of the folks it’s a real acceptable thing to go to jail.”

To help combat the drug problem, Haskins, an ordained United Church of Christ minister, started the Life After Meth program in May 2005. Two years later, LAM partnered with the Knox County jail to bring the program to the facility.

The community-model initiative includes parenting classes, drug treatment, employment classes and Bible study. Haskins said the program has helped participants find jobs, provided support after they are released and is currently preparing to add transitional housing.

“It’s a good way to teach,” Haskins said of putting LAM in the jail. “It is a great setting. It has worked beautifully.”

The LAM program in Knox County is one example of taking a different approach to the problem of crime. Communities around the state are employing alternative courts and treatment programs to address the root cause of why some individuals commit felonies and misdemeanors. In turn, these efforts are credited with reducing the rate of recidivism.

The rewrite of Indiana’s criminal code under House Bill 1006 attempts to boost these alternative programs by calling for intensive probation, rather than lengthy incarceration, for low-level offenders.

Money is among the primary motivators for the shift. At the current rate of incarceration, the Indiana Department of Correction expects its offender population to grow from the current 27,647 to 29,000 by 2020, according to a fiscal report by the Legislative Services Agency. At that point, the department will likely have to request funds to build a new prison.

Instituting the proposed changes in the criminal code bill could delay that population growth possibly into the 2030s. Along with not having to budget for the cost of building a new prison, the state would save on operating costs. The LSA report noted the Miami Correctional Facility has an operating budget of $32 million for fiscal year 2013.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said the criminal code is not being revamped solely because of the fiscal element. The focus is to have the punishment equitably match the crime.

“But the reality is, if we don’t make that adjustment, we’ll be building another half-billion dollar prison in Indiana in the immediate future,” he said.

At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law, advocates of alternative programs emphasized these different approaches are helping certain offenders change their behaviors and stop the cycle of repeated incarcerations. In the long-term, diverting people from criminal activities and keeping them out of jail and prison saves the state money.

However in the short-term, these programs cost money.

As it was introduced, HB 1006 called for the establishment of a probation improvement fund with a state appropriation of $1.9 million and funds from other sources. That funding was removed in the House.

Testifying before the Senate Committee, Don Travis, president of the Probation Officers’ Professional Association of Indiana, strongly encouraged the committee to re-insert the funding for evidence-based programs that can cut crime.

“If this bill goes into effect without the proper community resources, this bill will not have the effect that is anticipated,” he told the committee members. “Our recidivism rates will continue to grow if we don’t have the resources or the funding to implement the way the bill is currently being structured.”

Changing behavior

Monroe County’s drug court, presided over by Circuit Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff, is an example of the type of success alternative programs can have. The drug court has posted a 47 percent reduction in recidivism and an 87 percent graduation rate.

Within a very structured program, the drug court combines a high level of accountability with a high level of treatment. Defendants are placed under intense supervision, appearing in court one or two times a week and meeting regularly with their probation officers or case managers.

In addition, they are sanctioned swiftly for any missteps with punishments ranging from community service to immediate remand into jail. They are also given treatment that focuses on changing their thinking so they can modify their behaviors.

“These kinds of programs are working and making a difference,” said Monroe Circuit Judge Teresa Harper. “People become more accountable, and they change the way they actually think. Their responses are not the same.”

The alternatives to incarceration that work best, Travis said, are those that change behavior. Not addressing the underlying cause will just land the defendants back in jail when they are released from supervision.

Cognitive restructuring, on the other hand, gets defendants to think about the reasons why they engaged in criminal activity. When they become aware of their impulses and of the drivers behind their behaviors, they can then change.

“There are pockets of programs occurring all over the state,” Travis said. “If we had more resources we would be able to do those things across the entire state.”

The programs do not work for every defendant. But, both Travis and Harper said, when individuals are ready to overcome their addictions or change their behaviors and the programs to help are not available, these people will slip even further.

Necessary spending

Resources to provide services have more of an impact when they are directed to certain offenders. Travis made a distinction between defendants who commit misdemeanors or D felonies and defendants who are unlikely to break the law again. Specifically, not all low-level offenders are low-risk offenders, he noted.

Research shows that giving more programs and services to low-risk offenders increases the likelihood they will re-offend. This group of people has shown a tendency toward self-correction. The better option is to put the resources toward moderate- and high-risk offenders.

Monroe County partially funds its drug court with the fees paid by the defendants. Those fees do not cover all the programs and services, but Harper emphasized “spending is absolutely necessary” for long-term gain.

“Yes, it is more expensive to run a drug court, but in the end it is saving the county because (the offenders) don’t come back” into the system, she said.

When Daviess County built a new jail, Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit told the architects to put classrooms near the inmate living quarters. The space is used for the Restructure Addiction with Recovery and Education (RARE) faith-based program which is aimed at transforming offenders into productive, law-abiding citizens.

Like LAM in neighboring Knox County, the RARE program teaches anger management, parenting skills and vocational skills. The LAM and RARE programs have been credited with reducing inmate populations in the counties’ jails, reducing recidivism and curbing inmate fights.

Harbstreit told the story of a former inmate whose mother introduced the young man to meth. Faced with spending years behind bars, the man entered the RARE program and was able to change his life, becoming a certified welder at a local company and eventually being promoted to supervisor and transferred to Iowa. He has since married and is still living and working in the Hawkeye State.

“If anything ever worked,” Harbstreit said of RARE, “this is really working.” •

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  2. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

  3. The story that you have shared is quite interesting and also the information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing the article. For more info: http://www.treasurecoastbailbonds.com/

  4. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

ADVERTISEMENT