November 6, 2012

Cass County agrees to take more work release inmates

Contract should mean increase in revenue

by Jason M. Rodriguez

LOGANSPORT — Cass County Commissioners voted Monday to enter into an agreement with the Indiana Department of Correction to house about five more inmates on work release beginning next year, potentially clogging an already jammed waiting list to get in the county’s work release program.

It’s a move, however, that’s anticipated to generate revenue for the county, said Dave Wegner, director of Cass-Pulaski Community Corrections. It will also force his office to get more people off work release and onto house arrest.

“We are going to modify some of our past practices by modifying some of the people who have completed the case plans and treatment programs to home detention, thereby opening up some beds in the work release facility,” Wegner said. “We’re going to start a little bit slow. Hopefully about five people at a time. I imagine we won’t be getting anyone in until the first of the year.”

The county will be paid $25 a day for each inmate. It also receives 40 percent of the workers’ gross pay.

Wegner said half of the people community corrections currently has are from DOC as community transition “so this will give them a head start,” he said.

The work release program, which has 40 beds for men and 12 for women, has been near capacity for about a year now, forcing inmates to spend more time in jail. Before a client is admitted to the work release program, he or she has to complete a risk-needs assessment to determine whether the program is the right fit.

According to data from July 2011 to July 2012, the average length of stay at work release was 205 days.

Wegner said the court still had the final say whether these inmates can get off work release and onto house arrest, and effectively free up a space for another inmate sentenced to work release.

“Any time we do a transfer or modification of program, it does go before the court for a hearing and their approval,” he said.