BROOKVILLE –In July, 1991, Jefferson County initiated the paperwork for a new program that may open additional cell space at the county jail. The new Intermediate Punishment Program would be for qualified offenders only.
Since its inception, the IPP has saved Jefferson County 63,464 jail days and offered offenders an easier path back into society.
It is one of two programs offered by the county to aid offenders. While the IPP helps inmates regain their freedom sooner, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD) is designed to keep first time offenders out of jail.
The primary purpose of the program is the rehabilitation of the offender; secondarily the purpose is the prompt disposition of charges. The program is intended to encourage offenders to make a fresh start after participation in a rehabilitative program and offers them the possibility of a clean record if they successfully complete the program.
Making a fresh start is not as easy as it sounds.
At the recent meeting of the Jefferson County Jail Board, Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett said it is difficult for people who are just beginning to use illegal drugs, especially opiates, to beat addictions.
“Only those who truly want to get better will do so,” he said. “Even then, it isn’t easy. Some of the difficulty comes from the circumstances of their lives, Many begin using to escape.
“When you read the presentence investigations of the people who get sentenced in front of the court, their life history is not a happy tale,” said Burkett.
While the ARD program is not perfect, it is a valuable tool for first time offenders.
“It’s a way for someone who made one mistake not to have it haunt them for the rest of their lives,” said Burkett.
Burkett said the program does hold offenders accountable with jail time split between house arrest and 30 days in jail. If the terms of the ARD agreement are violated the offender must serve the full sentence.
Jail Board member County Treasurer Jim VanSteenberg said he believes it is a “great” program. “The promise of a clean record offers first time offenders an incentive not to recommit,” he said.
“A lot of people who go through appear to obey the law afterward,” said Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik. “If they do not they are no longer eligible for the program and will have to go through the regular sentencing process.”
The next meeting of the Jefferson County Jail Inspection Board will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 23 at Jefferson Place, Brookville.