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Monday, May 25, 2015

Ind. Courts - "Changes to slash Tippecanoe Court Services staff in half"

This story by Steven Porter today in the Lafayette Journal & Courier appears to have ramifications beyond Tippecanoe County. Some quotes:

Four of the seven existing full-time staff positions will be cut this summer from the Tippecanoe County Court Services payroll.

The reduction in force, effective June 30, was announced Friday afternoon as part of a broader reorganization effort to streamline the way defendant needs are met locally.

Tippecanoe Superior Court 6 Judge Michael Morrissey, one of the three judges who oversee Court Services, said it will be difficult to part ways with dedicated employees. * * *

The reorganization calls for Court Services to position itself as a division within the Tippecanoe County Probation Department, which means all Court Services evaluators and case managers must be eligible for certification as a probation officer, according to the release.

“It’s a move many counties are making,” Tippecanoe Superior Court 5 Judge Sean Persin said Sunday, citing St. Joseph County as one recent example.

A decline in the number of misdemeanor cases filed in recent years is just one of several factors that have converged to make this a prime time to reorganize, Persin said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Pence signed a new law that, among other things, calls for counties to eliminate redundancies in the services they offer.

The policy change dangles state grant money as an incentive.

“If you duplicate services, you’re not given priority,” Persin said, noting that he, Morrissey and Tippecanoe Superior Court 4 Judge Laura Zeman have interpreted the new rule to mean that jurisdictions with redundancies simply wouldn’t receive the funding.

“You have to prove to the state that your drug and alcohol program, your probation department and your Community Corrections department aren’t doing the same things, which makes sense,” Persin said.

Accordingly, the reorganization will discontinue Case Alert Tracking and pretrial release programs currently offered by Court Services because similar programs are already offered by Probation and Community Corrections. * * *

Court Services, which evaluates low-risk offenders and refers them to outside service providers, will remain distinct from other county entities that serve high-risk populations, Persin noted.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 25, 2015 04:40 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts