Today's News

Several Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 Several defendants were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Devin Trusty pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the State to a charge of operating a vehicle with a lifetime suspension. Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese accepted the plea agreement which called for a sentence of three years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended. While incarcerated, trusty will participate in a therapeutic community. If he successfully completes the CLIFF or GRIP program, he may petition the court for a modification of his sentence.

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County Officials Considering Uses for Existing Jail Building

starke-county-jail-outsideThe current Starke County Jail in downtown Knox will still be owned by the county and used for correctional programs once the new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center east of Knox on State Road 8 opens next year. Commissioner Kathy Norem says the building is part of the collateral for the loan to build the new structure, so it cannot be sold or torn down and must be used in the justice arena. She says the county set aside money to renovate the building. Continue reading

Monterey Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Charges

 A Monterey man pleaded guilty to marijuana charges and was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Wednesday morning.

Roland Minix, 49, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of marijuana under 30 grams and possession of marijuana with a prior conviction.

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Indiana’s New Criminal Codes Take Effect Today

 After nearly 37 years, the criminal codes in Indiana will change today which will create six levels of felonies. Credit time will also change.

Robert Hinojosa, Director of Operations at Starke County Community Corrections, said the change stemmed from a lack of proportionality.

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Moving Starke County Forward Schedules Community Addiction Discussion

The Moving Starke County Forward Coalition wants input from the entire community about how to best address addiction issues. They are hosting a community discussion on addiction and recovery tomorrow evening at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in downtown Knox. Board member Jordan Morris from Starke County Community Corrections hopes people from all walks of life will come be part of the dialogue and not worry about being profiled or judged. She says although people who have struggled with addiction will speak, the event is not limited to that population. Morris adds the entire community has been touched by the issue as taxpayers, business owners, health care providers, farmers and teachers. Continue reading

Mark Carrington Sentenced in Forgery Case

  Mark Carrington was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Thursday.

Carrington pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the State to charges of forgery as a Class C felony and theft as a Class D felony. Judge Kim Hall accepted the terms of that agreement and sentenced Carrington to four years in the Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended on the charge of forgery. On the theft charge, Carrington was sentenced to 24 months in the Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended.

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Starke County Commissioners Proclaim Correctional Employees Week

Commissioners Jennifer Davis and Kathy Norem proclaimed May 4-10 Correctional Employees Week in Starke County.

Commissioners Jennifer Davis and Kathy Norem proclaimed May 4-10 Correctional Employees Week in Starke County.

The Starke County Commissioners have proclaimed May 4-10 Correctional Employees Week.

Todd Willis chairs the Starke County Community Corrections Board of Directors. He says keeping the community safe is just part of what the agency does.

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Starke Commissioners Sign New Hope Proclamation

Robert Hinojosa

Robert Hinojosa

The Starke County Commissioners this week proclaimed each Tuesday in February “New Hope for Families Days,” urging all citizens of the community to participate in all efforts to make Starke County a model of a healthy community.

Bob Hinojosa, director of Starke County Community Corrections, approached the commissioners and introduced case manager Jordan MacKentire, who has been spearheading the effort. The proclamation came about as a result of the high level of drug abuse and addiction that is devastating the well-being of the Starke County community. Continue reading

Starke County Community Corrections Discusses House Bill

The Starke County Community Corrections Board met this week, and according to Chief Probation Officer John Thorstad, the meeting was essentially a culmination of ideas and thoughts on how a bill passed in the Indiana House of Representatives will affect Starke County. Thorstad said the meeting was held in two sessions, one with the judge, prosecutor and public defenders, and the second with probation, community corrections and some service providers.

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Knox Man Jailed on Heroin Charge

A Starke County Community Corrections inmate faces new charges after he was reportedly found to be in possession of heroin during a recent compliance check. Officers from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office accompanied corrections officials to check on Kurtis Singleton at a home northeast of Knox on Friday. They reportedly found heroin in his cigarette pack and arrested him for possession of heroin and maintaining a common nuisance. A female juvenile was also arrested.


Three Arrested on Meth Charges at Hamlet Motel

MethLaw enforcement officers conducting a welfare check at a local motel arrested three people on a cache of drug charges. Deputies from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and officials from Starke County Community Correction went to the Stay 4 Less Motel on U.S. 30 in Hamlet yesterday to check on 57-year-old Michael Campbell of Knox. When they arrived, they reportedly saw occupants of room 4 run into a bathroom and hide. The officers found Brian Back, 28, and Monica Hunt, 26, both of Plymouth, hiding in the bathroom and reportedly saw several items used to make meth in plain view. They contacted Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall, who issued a search warrant for the room. Members of the Indiana State Police Clandestine Lab Team assisted with the search, which reportedly turned up precursors, paraphernalia and meth. Back, Hunt and Campbell are jailed on charges of possession of meth, precursors and paraphernalia, manufacturing meth and maintaining a common nuisance. Formal charges are pending.

Warrants Issued for Sanchez, Spencer

Warrants have been issued for two offenders who escaped electronic monitoring from Starke County Community Corrections.

On Sunday, Brenan Sanchez cut off his ankle bracelet and fled to the Mishawaka area. Community Corrections staff began to investigate his whereabouts and found that he was at a girlfriend’s house in Mishawaka.

As this investigation was going on, another offender, Dustin Spencer, cut off his ankle bracelet on Monday.

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Two Starke County Offenders Charged with Escape

Two Starke County Community Corrections clients have been charged with Escape after reportedly cutting off their ankle bracelets.

Brenan Sanchez and Dustin Spencer allegedly tampered with their electronic monitoring devices earlier this week. They were then reportedly involved in a breaking and entering incident in the Mishawaka area and are currently being housed in the St. Joseph County Jail on a preliminary charge of Criminal Trespass.

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Starke Commissioners Approve Grant Application for Community Corrections

Robert Hinojosa

Robert Hinojosa

The Starke County Commissioners this week approved the 2013-2014 grant application for Starke County Community Corrections following a presentation by Shawn Mattraw who explained that the grant application remains essentially unchanged, aside from operational improvements that Mattraw said he is hoping will improve the agency’s outcome and results.

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Starke County Community Corrections Named Level One Agency

Robert Hinojosa

On May 11, the Indiana Department of Corrections announced that Starke County Community Corrections has been designated a level one corrections agency. The announcement was made by Bruce Lemmon, Director of the State Community Corrections Department.

In the announcement, Lemmon said S.C.C.C. meets or exceeds standards established for the effective operation of a community correction agency.

Robert Hinojosa wishes to thank the S.C.C.C. Advisory Board for their support and guidance through the review process. Hinojosa said, “The Starke County Community Corrections agency may not be one of the biggest programs in the state, but we can certainly to be one of the best.”

State Legislature to Consider Sending Class D Felons Back to County Jails

The state legislature will be discussing a piece of legislation this session that would send felons who have committed a Class D Felony back to the county jails to serve their time, rather than serving it in a state facility.

Starke County Sheriff, Oscar Cowen, was asked how this would impact the jail if this legislation is approved.

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Community Corrections Gets Approval to Proceed with Grant Application

Robert Hinojosa

Starke County Community Corrections Director, Robert Hinojosa, appeared before the County Commissioners recently to request a letter approving a grant application for 2012. The grant is administered by the Department of Corrections and is for almost $188,000 of a $346,000 Community Corrections budget. The shortfall is made up from user fees. The letter was signed as requested.

One of the goals of the local Community Corrections organization is to become a level one program.

“There’s three levels,” explains Hinojosa. “If you are a level one program, that means that you have done a great job in adopting a lot of the practices, doing good case management work and identifying which service providers are effective, etc. If you are a level two, you are doing a good job but not exceptional and if you are a level three you’ve got some major problems in the way you run your program. The first year they instituted the level status was last year and we came in at a high level two and I was proud of that. We had really limited resources to do some of the things that we were asked to do. I believe that this application we’re submitting will get us to level one.”

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Shawn Mattraw Selected as Director of Community Corrections Association

Shawn Mattraw

Shawn Mattraw, a member of the Starke County Community Corrections staff, has been selected to be the Northwest District Director for the association. In this capacity, Shawn will organize training for district members in Evidence Based Program initiatives.

“It’s going to give me greater responsibility, not just at the local level of Community Corrections, but also at the state level in terms of overall policy development any revisions with statutes and things like that that impact and affect anybody in the Northwest region,” explained Mattraw. “The Northwest region, including Starke County, consists of 12 other counties. It’s a task I’m really looking forward to. It gives me an opportunity to broaden my experiences and develop things more at the state level that impact us all in Community Corrections.”