County reports good news

BUCKHANNON — Recidivism rates in Upshur County decreased in 2016, the program director of Community Corrections program for the 26th Judicial Court told the Upshur County Commission Thursday. 

Cheyenne Walters reviewed the 2016 community corrections report with the commissioners at Thursday’s regular meeting. Walters said that in 2014, the community corrections program had 227 clients; in 2015, it had 349 clients; but in 2016, that number fell to 181 clients.

“What that shows me looking at it is that recidivism rates are going down, less arrests are being made and less offenses are being committed,” Walters said. 

Walters also shared a number of other statistics with the commission, saying that the community corrections program saved Upshur County $664,851.20 in regional jail fees in 2016. 

Combined savings between Upshur and Lewis counties — both part of the 26th Judicial Circuit — totaled $2,314,193.60 in regional jail fees. 

“It benefits the county in a number of ways by reducing regional jail fees, reducing recidivism rates, completing community service projects and providing services that are useful in the battle against substance abuse,” Walters said. “We look forward to continuing our great partnership with the commission, courts and other offices in the county.” 

In 2016, the community corrections program collected $155,123.30 in reimbursements and fees, Walters said. 

“Not all of that is profit, because some of it is reimbursed money,” Walters said. “We paid it out to get it back, but that’s the amount that we’ve gotten this year.” 

Walters said the program brought in $23,637 in supervision fees, $13,469 in drug testing fees, $2,389 in the Batterers Intervention Prevention Program, $7,314.50 in SCRAM bracelets and $108,313.80 in other reimbursements. 

Commission president Terry Cutright asked what a SCRAM bracelet was.

Walters replied, “A SCRAM bracelet is an alcohol-monitoring device that takes dermal readings. Anytime someone drinks alcohol, it picks it up and it reads levels, so they’re really efficient in helping people kick the alcohol habit because as soon as they drink, it reads it and we get notification.” 

Walters went on to note that the community corrections program has brought in more money in 2016 than it did in 2015 — $155,123.30 compared to $152,514.06, respectively.

She also reviewed the current status of offenders, saying out of the 181, 24 had completed the community corrections program, 37 had been revoked, eight absconded, two were deceased and 111 are still in the program. 

“We stay very busy,” Walters said. “We have a very large case load for the amount of people in the county. My employees — I’m very impressed with them. They put out so much work just to keep these people on track to go to all of their court hearings and provided services. It’s challenging, it really is.” 

Commissioner Sam Nolte observed, “It does save us a ton of money on the regional jail bill. How many more clients could you handle with your current staff now?”

Walters answered that the program was “pretty well maxed out.” 

“If we had other staff or part-time staff, we could take on more people of course,” she said. 

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