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Home detention program going strong

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

(Photo)
Members of the Clay County Community Corrections Department include (from left) Executive Director John Tabasco, Community Services Coordinator Terri Haddon, Case Manager Jamie Ringo and Home Detention Officer Christopher Camonte Sr.
Non-violent offenders do not always deserve to be incarcerated for their crimes, but still need to be punished, which is where home detention comes into play.

Home detention is a less restrictive punishment where offenders may still earn an income for themselves and their families.

"The punishment we give must be appropriate to fit the crime," Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger said. "Some crimes deserve both punishment and rehabilitation aspects. We don't want to hand out cookie cutter punishments."

The Community Corrections Department is a division of the Indiana Department of Correction, and was created in 1980 as an alternative sentencing procedure.

While on home detention with Community Corrections, offenders must also pay a portion of their income to the department. This not only saves the state the $57 per diem cost of being housed in the prison system, it also contributes funding to run the department.

"Community Corrections is not a burden on taxpayers at all," Executive Director of Community Corrections John Tabasco said. "The clients, along with state grants, help pay to run the programs within Community Corrections.

Individuals placed on home detention have specific restrictions set on time out of the house to allow them to continue to work or to complete necessary household errands.

"Clients must check in at least on a weekly basis to give us their anticipated schedule for the week," Home Detention Officer Christopher Camonte, Sr. said. "We do allow for some extra out-of-house time for those without families to do laundry or go grocery shopping, but our restrictions are very strict."

There are different options for the monitoring of clients in the home detention program based on the risk level of the individual.

Some clients have to report daily to Case Manager Jamie Ringo to set their schedule for the day, but do not have an electric monitoring system connected to them.

Others do have to wear an electric transmitter on their ankle, which is hooked up to determine whether the offender is out of the house longer than their allotted time.

"We also have a Global Positioning System (GPS) form of monitoring used for all sex offenders and violent offenders," Tabasco said. "With the GPS system, we use computers to lock down the exact spot where the offender is at all times, including the rate of speed they are traveling."

Clay County will be one of the first counties in the state to begin a pilot program for lifetime GPS tracking of sex offenders, starting in 2008.

Also, while under home detention, clients can be moved to less constrictive monitoring with good behavior, but it is at the discretion of the Community Corrections department, in conjunction with the prosecutor and judge who handed down the original punishment.

Keeping track of offenders and helping them rehabilitate back into the community in an effective manner is not a one-person job.

"Some of the clients also have to complete community service time while in home detention," Community Services Coordinator Terri Haddon said. "We all work with the clients in some form, but it is a team effort that really makes things work smoothly."

Monitoring of individuals on home detention works not only within the office, but with the public's help as well.

"I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to calls," Camonte said. "We follow up on calls we receive from the public to ensure the clients are staying within the restrictions we set for them."

Clients in the system have the interior of their homes as their jail, but the limited freedoms given to them and their ability to still work gives them some semblance of a normal life.

"We do run a really tight program in order to hold clients accountable for their actions," Tabasco said. "However, we don't look at them as offenders, but rather as members of the community we can help to get their lives back on track."



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