Community Corrections Director Mary Brown recently spoke with The Brazil Times about how the department is funded and its benefits for the county.
"One thing a lot of people don't realize is that when someone is sentenced to serve their time through Community Corrections, the offender pays for their term," Brown said. "This makes a big difference compared to if we had to house them locally or send them to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC)."
According to IDOC Fact Cards, the average cost to house an adult inmate is $52.60 per day, while the per diem shoots up to $159.98 should a juvenile be shipped of to the DOC.
"However, offenders in Community Corrections pay $10-$20 per day out of their own pocket, depending on the monitoring level, as they serve their sentence," Brown said.
"In addition, they also have to pay for the initial hookup costs, which range between $175 for basic home detention to $245 for GPS tracking."
She added the money paid by offenders to be in Community Corrections goes into the department's Project Income Fund, which allows for maintenance, upgraded technology, and more recently, possibly constructing a separate building.
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times the building could become a necessity in the near future.
"As we transition more and more to alternative sentencing, which is what Community Corrections is, their importance will only continue to grow, meaning they could need more staffing and a larger work area than what they currently have on the third floor of the Clay County Courthouse," he said.
Heaton added the services Community Corrections provide allow for a big savings to the county.
"Just to house our own inmates, it roughly costs anywhere from $30-$50 a day, which includes meals and medical services we have to provide," he said.
"Through Community Corrections, rather than having those expenses, money is actually being brought in which helps keep the department running."
Brown told The Brazil Times that from July-December 2010, offenders were sentenced to a total of 3,165 days of home detention, which would have cost $166,479 if those days had to be served with the IDOC.
"Project income is our biggest source of revenue, accounting for about 66 percent of our budget," she said.
"The other 34 percent is paid for through state grants, which is mainly for salaries."
During the most recent meeting of a research committee formed by the Community Corrections Board, Brown said there is currently about $160,000 available in project income, which would make a huge dent in the cost of constructing a new building on the lot where the old Clay County Jail currently sits.
"Right now, we average bringing in about $13,500 a month in project income, which will help us pay off the building and utility costs for a new structure," she said.
Brown told The Brazil Times new legislation is being considered to revise sentencing guidelines in the state, which could create the need for Community Corrections to expand its current capabilities.
"At this time, we have basic home detention, GPS monitoring and a few means of alcohol monitoring," she said.
"We don't currently have anyone who needs to pass a breathalyzer in order to start their vehicle, but future legislation could make that, and other options, a possibility we will have to institute, making our department all the more important for the safety of our community."