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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Community corrections fails to meet state goals

  • McPherson County Community Corrections was below its goal for successfully completed probations for fiscal year 2013.
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  • McPherson County Community Corrections was below its goal for successfully completed probations for fiscal year 2013.
    Janet Cagle, director of Harvey /McPherson Counties Community Corrections, gave a report to the McPherson County Commission at its meeting Monday.
    The state set a goal for the agency to increase its success rate to 75 percent or at least by 3 percent compared the previous year.
    Harvey/McPherson Counties Community Corrections had a 68.6 percent success rate in FY 2013, which fell short of the 70 percent goal.
    The state also set a goal of 75 percent success rate for the highest-risk offenders completing a cognitive-behavioral group.
    The local agency had a 40 percent success rate.
    Cagle said this goal continues to be a difficult benchmark for the agency to reach.
    "These are the most high-risk offenders, and it is hard to get them in group, and it is hard to keep them in group," she said.
    During FY13, the only behavorial group that was offered was in Harvey County. This made it difficult for McPherson County probationers to attend the group due to lack of driver's licenses, reliable transportation or money to pay for gas.
    McPherson County is preparing a cognitive-behavioral group in McPherson beginning in FY14.
    The agency also has struggled with meeting the objective of increasing employment among probationers.
    In her report, Cagle said several larger employers in the district that do not require specific skills will not hire felony probationers. Many probationers do not have the skills to work in the manufacturing, health or technical fields.
    Lack of education and lack of work history also can be challenges for probationers who are looking for employment.
    A state law seeks to give judges opportunities to incarcerate probationers for short periods of time without completely revoking probations.
    The law allows a judge to remand a probationer to a local jail for two to three days for a probation violation. Cagle said this is called a dip. A judge also can order a probationer to prison for 120 to 180 days rather than the probationer's full prison sentence. This is called a dunk.
    Cagle said this could be effective, but she is concerning about the court system's slow response. In order for the dunks and dips to be effective, they are meant to be swift sanctions after a probation violation, Cagle said. However, revocations may take up to a year to process because of hearing continuances, she said.
    "The court system normally gives them chance after chance," Cagle said. "We go back and we say we want to revoke this person and send them to prison because they are just not working the program, and the judge will say, 'You know, I have seen you before. I'm going to give you another chance.
    Page 2 of 2 - They come back on probation. We do the whole thing again, and they are not doing the thing they need to do, and we say we're going to take them back to court, revoke them and send them back to prison. The judge says, "I've seen you twice before. I'm going to give you another chance.' Because before they go back to court, maybe they are working. It is a tough game."
    Cagle said she is optimistic Ninth District Judge John Klenda, who was appointed earlier this year, will be sympathetic to the agency's plight.
    In other business, the commission:
    n Approved the purchase of a pickup from Wallace Chevrolet at a cost of $22,970.
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