03/03/10 — County seeks justice grant from state

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County seeks justice grant from state

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 3, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County will apply for a $116,000 state Criminal Justice Partnership Program for the Day Reporting Center's Sentenced Offender Program.

The application was approved by county commissioners Tuesday morning after Day Reporting Center Director Theresa Barrett told them that $298,000 was saved this fiscal year alone through programs offered by the center.

The grant will require a local match of about $15,000.

The program's goals include reducing alcohol and drug dependencies among offenders receiving intermediate punishment, recidivism, the cost of incarceration and overcrowding at the jail and probation revocation by 15 percent.

Another goal is to work with offenders for a 50 percent success rate in substance abuse treatment program

People in the program are tracked using GPS, Ms. Barrett said.

"I can tell where they are now and where they have been in the last 24 hours," she said. "They still do have their curfews, but we are able now to track them which should give everybody a little peace of mind knowing that they are out of jail and that we are better able to keep an eye on them. We have had two babies delivered this year that taxpayers do not have to pay for. They were not in our jail and we have one on the way."

Also these year, four pre-trial defendants have received their high school graduate equivalency degree (GED), she said.

"You should see their faces, how happy they are to have that little piece of paper," she said. "It is priceless. To them it is such a big deal and it is."

It is a step to making them into productive citizens who can give back to society, she said.

Wayne Community College is in the process of setting up a satellite program at the Day Reporting Center in which people in the program can take classes, she said.

It is cheaper for the county to put the offenders in the program than in jail, county officials said.

Commissioners J.D. Evans asked Ms. Barrett if what she was saying is that the program helps change behavior.

Ms. Barrett agreed.

Sheriff Carey Winders said that the center works "very well" with his office and jail.

In another grant-related issue, no one from the public spoke during a brief public hearing on an amendment to the county's $400,000 2008 Community Development Block Grant for scattered site housing improvements.

The county received the $400,000 to provide housing assistance throughout the county. The hearing was held to gather comments on amending the project in order to add more people.

David Harris of RSM Harris and Associates, who is administering the grant, told commissioners the amendment was needed since some of the applicants who were being considered did not qualify for the program deigned to help the elderly, handicapped and low-income families.

One house in Mount Olive had to be dropped because it is in the town's historic district. As such the house would have to be rehabilitated instead of demolished. However, the grant does not allow for more money to be spent on a house than it is worth.

The second house had fallen into such disrepair that the occupant had been forced to move. The state considered that the house now fails to meet the requirement of being owner occupied.

Commissioners agreed to the amendment following the hearing.

In other business:

Representatives of Geo-graphic Technologies Group, a Goldsboro company, demonstrated a new Web-based crime-mapping program that is expected to go online within the next few days.

It will be available for people to access to view information about crimes within specific distances of their homes and in other counties.

Commissioners met for more than an hour in two separate closed sessions to discuss acquisition of property, economic development and to consult with county attorney Borden Parker.

The first session was held prior to the start of the board meeting and the second at the conclusion of the meeting.

Commissioners had no discussion and took no action upon returning to open session.

A minor family subdivision plat for three lots near the Oakland Fire Station was unanimously approved with little comment. Approval had been recommended by the Planning Board.

The board approved a resolution proclaiming March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Board Chairman Jack Best read a list of questions that commissioners developed during their planning retreat last Thursday at the Goldsboro Country Club.

The questions are:

* Why isn't Wayne County growing?

* How do you pay your way?

* How do we change citizens to be less dependent on government?

* What does Wayne County want to be known for?

* What does local government do?

"We'd like for the public to come to us and add to the questions or give us some answers," Best said.