MOUNT VERNON - The Mount Vernon Municipal Court Probation Department was notified last week by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections that the $196,000 Probation Improvement and Incentive Grant received in 2015, will be renewed for another 18 months beginning in fiscal year 2018. The grant renewal was based on the Probation Department achieving an 89% compliance rate in four performance areas during the previous grant period. The Probation Department will receive an additional $17,000 incentive fund to further improve community supervision and rehabilitative services in Knox County.
Chief Adult Probation Officer Dave Priest reports the department achieved 100% compliance in three out of four performance areas during the grant period. 100% of the 685 offenders assigned to a term of supervision received an assessment using the Ohio Risk Assessment Scores. 238 offenders participated in a substance abuse monitoring system exceeding the goal of having 215 offenders participate. And the total number of probation violations was reduced by ten percent using internal sanctions instead of jail time such as electronic alcohol monitoring, GPS monitoring, automated drug testing and in-house cognitive behavioral programs.
The fourth performance goal was to have 80% of defendants participating in drug and alcohol services discharged successfully from treatment. The Probation Department set the goal knowing it was 20% higher than the national average for successful discharge from treatment. The Department still achieved an impressive 69% success rate.
The grant funding was used to support a variety of community based services through partnerships with local treatment providers. The Freedom Center received $50,000 to provide substance abuse services for inmates in the Knox County Jail. Ohio Alcohol Monitoring Services received $25,000 for long term alcohol monitoring of offenders. The Probation Department used $7,500 to implement electronic substance abuse monitoring and pay for additional drug screen costs. The grant paid for an anger management program called “Hands Down” through Central Ohio Assessment for offenders convicted of violent offenses. $5,000.00 provided additional supervision services for offenders.
The remaining funds paid for probation officer training and equipment and hiring a full time probation officer for the MERIT Drug Court program who also carries a full probation caseload. The grant renewal will allow these community partnerships and services to continue.
The Probation Department plans to use a portion of the $17,000 incentive fund to acquire a new drug testing lab. The drug testing lab will allow the Probation Department to produce in-house, lab quality drug testing results which are required for offender supervision, accountability, and future rehabilitative services. Other Knox County probation departments and agencies will be invited to use the drug testing lab and share associated costs.