Pretrial program grows

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The enhanced pretrial assessment program has been working well for those being served, the program coordinator told the Dubois County Council Monday.

Melissa Niehaus talked to the council about adding a third position to the program. Just like the other employee, funding the third position will be covered by a grant from the Indiana Office of Court Services.

The enhanced services are being done to comply with a rule established by the Indiana Supreme Court as of January 2020. In Criminal Rule 26, the court stated that courts should use the results of evidence-based assessments and other relevant information to determine whether a person who is arrested presents a substantial risk of flight, danger to themselves or danger to the public. This was enacted so that people who do not pose a threat are not held in jail because they cannot afford to pay a bond.

Since the enhanced pretrial program started, assessments have been done on more tha 615 individuals, Niehaus said. More than 600 are monitored for various actions like making it to their court dates and not having any new charges, she said. The pretrial employees also help people in the program connect to other needed services.

So far, 89% have not gotten any new charges and 97% have appeared for their court hearings. "So we're doing good things," Niehaus said.

Danielle Traylor joined the program as a pretrial services officer, taking a pay cut from her previous position with Dubois County Community Corrections. "She wanted to work with this program and see it grow," Niehaus said. Indiana Office of Court Services has provided some grant funding to increase Traylor's salary to the level of other case managers; Niehaus asked the county to appropriate that grant funding to the position.

Niehaus also requested that the third position be added, which is also covered by grant funding.

The council appropriated the $67,445 grant for the third position and told Niehaus to go through the official process of completing a salary adjustment form for the increase.

The council also:

• Approved a resolution for establishing vote centers in the county.

• Appropriated an additional $12,583, which the county is receiving from the federal government. Officials previously allowed for the appropriation of $8.2 million that is available to the county from the federal American Rescue Plan. The $12,583 is the extra money county officials found out would also be available, for a total of about $8.3 million. None of the money has been spent so far, but a committee is looking into options.

• Transferred $20,000 from the solid waste sticker fund to highway reimbursement to cover the cost of having a highway worker drive the solid waste truck while the regular driver is out on medical leave.

• Appropriated $5,000 to purchase plat books that will be sold to the public.

• Transferred $4,485 from the park department's full-time employee position, which is not filled, to the comp time fund to cover the overtime that Park Director Bob Gress has had to work.

• Appropriated $1,925 for rent costs at the Purdue Extension office; the money will cover the cost of renting an additional room for the office.

• Heard an update about the innkeeper tax collection. Dubois County Visitors Center Executive Director Whitney Lubbers said that the collection is going well and that the number of overnight stays at hotels in the county has been increasing significantly.

• Approved a resolution to allow for the continuation of electronic meetings. The meetings are also open for the public to attend.

• Passed an ordinance to allow for the use of excess funding in the recorder's perpetuation fund for the 2022 budget.

• Started working on its 2022 budgets.




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