By Rachel Leber
KOKOMO, Ind. — In the world of corrections, efficiency is becoming increasingly important to successfully running a facility — though it isn’t always easy or possible. The Howard County Community Corrections Advisory Board in Kokomo, however, is currently trying to do exactly that: The board unanimously approved a merger between local probation and the community corrections department at its Jan. 18 meeting.
With a decreasing budget and an increasing caseload, a major issue that has been identified by the Howard County Community Corrections board is the perpetual bottleneck that the probation department has become. The hope is that by combining probation and the corrections department, the system as a whole can be more efficient, time-effective and will have a positive impact on the budget. In effect, the county hopes to streamline services and maximize the grant process, according to a recent article by the Kokomo Perspective.
How will this change actually look when implemented? The plan moving forward is to eliminate the positions of director at both the probation department and at Howard County Community Corrections. Moving forward, adult probation and community corrections will be led by supervisors in each department, with one director in place to oversee the entire operation. In addition, the change will mean putting mid-level managers in charge of the various departments to make up for the difference.
Additionally, community corrections caseworkers will be cross-trained in probation department duties, with the goal of trying to minimize redundancy in services by the probation department and community corrections caseworkers — a redundancy which has been quite prevalent in the past, according to Doug Tate, judge of Howard County Superior Court III and chair of Advisory Board in a recent interview with News Press Now.
In addition to greater attempts at efficiency and relieving the workload for probation officers, the county will be better able to find and make use of state funding with the new set up. In addition to maximizing the ability of the Howard County to receive grant funding from the state, the elimination of the position of Howard County Community Corrections Director alone will save $60,000 annually. This position was originally held by Ray Tetrault, who was fired in November.