The goal of Harvey County's community corrections program is to give offenders a second chance at life, to break a cycle of bad habits that led to their conviction in the first place.
However, Janet Cagle, director of Harvey/McPherson Counties Community Corrections, said that cycle is a tough one to break, and these problems — especially drug addictions — present the program with some of its biggest challenges.
"We battle every year with trying to get our high-risk probationers off drugs," Cagle reported during Monday's Harvey County Commission meeting.
"Until they want help themselves, it's hard for the courts to order them to get help," Commissioner Randy Hague agreed.
The community corrections program is a felony probation agency within Harvey and McPherson counties, funded by money from the state. The organization supervises adult and juvenile probationers but does not work with inmates from the state prison or the county jail. Clients enter the agency due to a district court judge’s order for intensive supervision.
Cagle said the program encourages probationers to change their lifestyle by applying for and retaining jobs; furthering their education; and staying off drugs and alcohol.
However, this isn't easy, and addictions to drugs like methamphetamine can become a lifelong battle.
"It's sad," Cagle said.
She reported positive reinforcements, such as gift cards, have worked well with probationers, and they are more effective than negative "punishments."
"It does show that they will do more community service work if they have incentives," Cagle said.
Like many agencies, she continues to fear what impact legislative budget cuts could have on her organization.
- Harvey County commissioners also approved the naming of a road on the east side of Harvey County West Park. The road is from 36th to 24th streets and will be called "Walnut Grove Road." Staff verified the name with 9-1-1 to make sure the proposed name would not cause confusion with already existing roads in the county.
- County commissioners will begin the yearly budget hearing process at their meeting next week. Commissioners will hear budget requests from different departments before approving a final budget in August.