When a person is charged with a crime, the outcome can look bleak.
Depending on the severity of that crime, jail time can loom on the horizon.
But people who are charged with nonviolent crimes can go to a place that helps rehabilitate them through drug and alcohol counseling, and even help them possibly attain a GED and look for a job.
In Marion County, that place is the Day Report Center, which is a sentencing alternative for people charged with nonviolent crimes.
Instead of a jail sentence or as a condition of bond, those people might be ordered to attend the center, where they will receive counseling, attend various classes and perform community service for a specified time.
Funded by a $133,351 grant from the West Virginia Community Corrections Act Program, the center opened its doors on March 15, 2010. It is one of 35 such centers around the state.
The need for the center is obvious. According to the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Service, nonviolent offenders accounted for almost 76 percent of new prison admissions in 2006 and 51 percent of the stock population in mid-2007.
Almost 21 percent of new commitments in 2007 were parole violators.
The length of stay increased for nearly all crime categories between 2001 and 2006, and for many nonviolent offenses: burglary (20.1 months), property (10.6 months) and drug offenses (eight months).
That’s where the Day Report Center comes in. Since opening, the center has helped more than 180 offenders, and there are currently 56 active participants. The rehabilitation offered at the center may also help cut the recidivism rate.
But it won’t be easy.
“This is not just an experiment,” said director Ted Offutt. “We are not coddling criminals. We’re not being soft on crime. The individuals in this program can tell you. It’s easier to lay in a bunk at jail than to be in this program. They have to participate in programs.”
The Day Report Center has helped people like Angela, who asked to be identified by a fictitious name for privacy reasons. She was driving in Taylor County last October when a police officer motioned for her to pull over. That’s when he asked to see her license, but because she didn’t have one, she got a ticket that she signed with her sister’s name. That led to her being indicted on two felony counts of forging and two counts of uttering a public document. An added issue was that a court-ordered drug test came back positive for “so many drugs” in her system.
She was sent to the Day Report Center, and she’s glad.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it,” Angela explained to the Times West Virginian. “It changed my life completely. A year ago I never thought I’d be the person I am today.”
Angela’s story certainly isn’t unique. There are more people like her who are being rehabilitated thanks to the success of programs like the Day Report Center.
But the center doesn’t just help rehabilitate nonviolent offenders. It’s saving the county money by keeping the North Central Regional Jail less crowded. Paying $50 a day for each Marion County inmate at the regional jail can cost more than a million dollars in a year. That doesn’t include transportation, wear and tear on the transport van, time and gas.
It’s clear that the Marion County Day Report Center is providing people with the second chance they need.
When a person is charged with a crime, the outcome can look bleak.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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