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FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 2007
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Sentencing program on target for March start
Morgan community corrections should lower inmate populations

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com · 340-2437

Morgan County judicial officials could start routing defendants to community corrections rather than jail in a couple of months, and that should ultimately result in lower jail and prison populations.

The Morgan County Community Corrections Commission approved a plan Thursday to submit to the state Department of Corrections to seek funding for its local program.

Instituted upon a federal court consent decree, the corrections program gives judges an alternative to sentencing criminal defendants to prison.

Circuit Judge Steve Haddock, vice chairman of the corrections commission, anticipates when he and other judges will start using the alternative.

"My hope is that we can begin making referrals by mid-March," said Haddock. "The hiring process and other things that need to be adjusted will factor into that."

The commission gave the program's director, Alison Nix, permission to advertise two jobs to hire two people to work with her in the program.

Also, the commission has potential contracts pending with companies that will provide monitoring services and drug testing.

  • ix also received commission approval to submit the county's corrections plan to the DOC. She is seeking a $100,000 grant from the agency to help fund the program.

    The plan establishes who will be eligible to participate and those who would be excluded.

    Program eligibility

    To be eligible, an offender:

  • Would be incarcerated in a correctional institution or is currently incarcerated in a correctional institution.

  • Is charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor.

  • Is not charged with or convicted of any of the felonies in a subdivision of a section the state community punishment and corrections act.

  • Has not demonstrated a pattern of violent behavior.

  • Is not otherwise excluded from eligibility under the list of exclusions.

    Ineligible offenders

    Offenders charged with these crimes would not be eligible for community corrections:

  • Murder; first-degree kidnapping; first-degree rape; first-degree sodomy; first-degree arson; selling or trafficking in controlled substances; first-degree robbery; first-degree sexual abuse; forcible sex crimes; stalking; lewd and lascivious acts on a child; first-degree assault; crimes involving the use or threatened use of a firearm or dangerous weapon; crimes resulting in the death of a serious bodily injury to someone; crimes of violence involving the use or attempted use of force against a person with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury; burglary of an occupied residence; and any offense involving an offender’s direct participation in the sale or distribution of drugs for profit.

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