Federal grant could make drug court a reality


BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind.–The Bartholomew County Commissioners signed a grant application on Monday for federal dollars to fund a major component needed for a drug court, which is a vital part of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP). Bartholomew County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin says the $500,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, allocated over a four-year period, would allow the hiring of a new probation officer for the drug court using few local dollars.

Case size per probation officer is 25-30, a number that Benjamin would like to double. In a drug court, one half-day per week would be devoted to reviewing certain cases of repeat offenders who could benefit from the accountability of a weekly court appearance to rehabilitate them. The intent would be to reduce recidivism and boost recovery efforts by the individual and the community.

Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz expressed some concern that the county would be required to pay the difference of a cost that would not be covered entirely by the grant. However, auditor Barb Hackman reiterated that the only motion before the commissioners was to sign the grant, not disburse the award money.

Benjamin said that the total amount of money for awards was boosted this year from $50 million to $95 million, increasing the likelihood of Bartholomew County winning the grant. Grant recipients will be announced at a later date.

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