Meredith Butler, director of the 8th Judicial District Community Corrections office in Junction City, spoke with Marion County commissioners this summer about the services her office provides.
Butler said about 250 adults and 45 to 60 juveniles are currently under the supervision of community corrections in the 8th District.
The district includes Marion, Dickinson, Geary and Morris counties.
“In Marion County, there are 11 adults and five juveniles,” she said.
Sheriff Rob Craft said the majority of his involvement with Butler and community corrections is court-ordered enforcement, which happens when someone fails to complete his or her program obligations.
“We also work with community corrections through the juvenile intake procedures,” he said.
The procedure begins when someone makes a complaint about either a child in need of care or an unruly young person. Butler said the primary goal of community corrections is about improving lives, strengthening families and creating safer communities.
“While probation and other supervisory efforts can’t make someone change, we work to show the benefits of making better choices,” Butler said. “Often, when better choices are made, and especially when it involves criminal thinking or behaviors, lives can improve.”
By working to reduce criminal thinking and behaviors, change can impact families in a positive way, she explained.
“It’s not uncommon to see generations of the same families on supervision in some form,” Butler said, adding that the way to help strengthen families is to provide interventions to those struggling.
“These interventions could consist of efforts such as a mental health or substance abuse treatment, education, employment assistance, cognitive behavioral programs and aspects to help change thinking patterns,” she added.
Once an assessment is completed, the next step is a continued reporting structure and, along with the probation office, known as an intensive supervision officer, a plan is developed. The plan could include required classes or programs and community service.
“There will also be times a drug test will need to be submitted,” she said.
Depending on the severity of the violation, a client could face severe consequences or sanctions.
“Sanctions for violations of your standard conditions could include additional community service, written reports, increased reporting, jail time of 48 hours if approved by the court and more,” she said.
The top three reasons why people get into trouble while on probation include failure to make payments, failure to report and failure to remain drug/alcohol free, according to Butler.
Other reasons could include failing to enroll or complete treatment, failing to gain employment, remaining crime free, not completing community service work or absconding.
Butler said employment is required of every adult client supervised by community corrections. It could be either full-time employment, being a full-time student or a combination of school and work.
“If someone is unemployed at the time they are assigned to community corrections, they will be given a certain amount of time to find employment on their own,” she said.
A life skills class has been constructed to help with information on specific skills.
“Classes such as time management, stress management, budgeting, job search efforts, hygiene and cycle of change offers clients the opportunity to gain skills in areas that can sometimes negatively impact their success,” she said.
Cognitive behavioral classes are provided to help people think through some of life’s daily challenges, and are presented by someone certified in the facilitation of the state’s department of corrections.
Other programs could include drug screens, home and community visits and payments, depending on what is needed.
What is an ISO?
“Community corrections is the title in Kansas for intensive supervised probation,” Butler said. “Our officers are officially called intensive supervision officers, but they are normally known as probation officers.”
Butler said that as part of the administrative hearing process, she is required to develop a business plan, which she encouraged the county commissioners to review.
In addition, a memorandum of agreement with Geary County, which serves as the host county, is being developed.
Butler said she sends quarterly reports directly to the commission board for review.
For more information about the 8th Judicial District Community Corrections office, Butler can be reached at 801 N. Walnut, Suite E, Junction City; or by phone, 785-762-8801, ext. 1154; or by email, email@example.com.