When individuals commit crimes repeatedly, the communities in which they reside suffer because of the need to devote considerable taxpayer money and resources. That’s why reducing the number of repeat offenders is important.
The Women Recovering with a Purpose (WRAP) program in Bartholomew County is an example of such an effort.
WRAP is a residential substance abuse treatment program in partnership between Bartholomew County Court Services and Centerstone of Indiana. It allows women who have committed crimes — most of whom are considered a high risk to offend — an opportunity to get away from their environment, address drug addiction through treatment and learn how to rebuild their lives positively.
The goal of WRAP is that the women do not commit more crimes. Program data shows a 39 percent reduction in risk to reoffend among successful participants.
Therefore, it was disheartening that federal funding for the local WRAP was cut by about 44 percent for this year, and the reduction included a stipulation that the $56,455 received must be spent by the end of June or be lost.
That’s a blow to a program that was making strides in the effort to combat recidivism.
It’s also a sign of concern for the program’s future.
A similar program for male criminal offenders addicted to drugs, which served Bartholomew and 17 other counties, closed in 2012 after four years when funding was eliminated by the Indiana Department of Mental Health.
Consequently, uninsured male offenders who are not sent directly to prison can receive only outpatient treatment for their addictions. However, they’re most likely to remain in their same environments that contribute to their drug use — increasing the risk for committing more crimes.
“We have a very difficult time dealing with male adults who have substance abuse issues, especially with heroin and methamphetamine,” Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann said.
Court Services has asked the Indiana Department of Correction for $1.3 million — an increase of more than $250,000 from its current funding level — for the next fiscal year to support the program. Seeking help from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is another possible avenue, as is asking the county.
The hope is that additional funding can be secured and that the federal government might fund a greater amount in the future because stakeholders come to realize the cost of not having these programs can be greater to communities that must deal with repeated crimes by women. Problems that Bartholomew County is having with drug-addicted men should serve as a warning about the consequences.
Proactive measures such as WRAP are beneficial because they can turn lives around. That’s a positive investment, and one more likely to yield positive results than just putting offenders behind bars again and again.