Starke and Pulaski Counties will have more options for juvenile offenders thanks to an expanded state program. They are among 13 counties the state is adding to the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) this year. It seeks to improve outcomes for underage offenders while ensuring public safety.
‘In Starke County, juvenile probation officer Kristi Nolcheff will oversee the program. Chief Probation Officer John Thorstad says she’s familiar with the structure, as the county has been utilizing sentencing alternatives for the past few years to cut costs. Last year Starke County spent about $2,000 on juvenile incarceration. In 2009 that figure was $30,000.
Money for juvenile detention comes from the Starke County Commissioners budget. Nolcheff says the JDAI will allow local funds to be redirected into programs aimed at curbing recidivism.
Thorstad says there still will be a need to detain kids. He adds the county will now be able to follow state program guidelines to determine just who they are.
Indiana implemented the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in 2006. State officials say it and other reforms have allowed the Department of Correction to save more than $15 million annually. They also note re-arrest rates have gone from 25 to 10 percent in JDAI counties. The expansion brings that number to 32.