ALTHOUGH Bartholomew County stands to receive about $10,000 a month from Indiana to house nonviolent offenders held in the state’s penal system, the local jail is not about to become a major revenue producer for county government.
While some might chafe at the concept of out-of-county offenders being housed here, the reality is that the five to 10 eligible inmates who will be housed here at any one time will actually have close ties to the county. Under the arrangement signed by county officials, the inmates transferred here must be originally from Bartholomew or an adjacent county.
Moreover, these are individuals who will be assigned to the county’s work-release program. When not confined at the jail, they will be working or seeking a job locally.
Putting aside for the moment the cash transaction, the approach is a valid part of the rehabilitation process. Individuals who have served prison sentences often return to their home communities to live. Since the county did not have such an arrangement with the Department of Corrections prior to this, earlier inmates would have been at a disadvantage seeking employment in communities far from their home base.
It should be stressed that these inmates would be nonviolent offenders. In addition, the county has the option to refuse to accept a work-release participant deemed to be objectionable.
Local officials said they believe that the added influx will have little to no effect on the county’s budget. There is adequate space available in the work-release program, and the county should not have to hire additional personnel.
The arrangement is funded by state tax dollars and the inmates themselves.
The county will be paid $25 a day for each state inmate housed here in the work-release program. In addition, the county will hold back about 40 percent of each participant’s salary. Of that amount 10 percent will revert to the state, but the county will keep the remainder.
The additional money the county will receive is certainly of value, but of greater value will be enhanced opportunities for offenders to be rehabilitated.