The North Central Community Corrections Program recently received almost a quarter-million dollars in grant funding for its program in Randolph County and, in-turn, the money will help the courts offer alternative sentencing to non-violent offenders and save taxpayers a large chunk of money in regional jail fees.
North Central Community Corrections Executive Director Travis Carter said Randolph County received a grant for $242,693. Carter and NCCC Finance Manager Erin Golden met with Gov. Joe Manchin in Charleston on June 8 to accept the award. The funding will cover the cost of day-to-day operations for the program.
Randolph County is the home office of NCCC, which is made up of Randolph, Pocahontas and Grant counties.
PRESENTING GRANT FUNDING — North Central Community Corrections Executive Director Travis Carter and Finance Manager Erin Golden meet with Gov. Joe Manchin and the area’s delegation to the West Virginia Legislature in Charleston. From left are Delegate Bill Hartman, D-37th District, Sen. Walt Helmick, D-15th District, Golden, Manchin, Carter and Sen. Clark Barnes, R-15th District. North Central Community Corrections has been awarded a $242,693 grant.
The program opened its doors in Randolph County in June 2005. Since then, Carter said it has saved the taxpayers of Randolph County in excess of $3.8 million in regional jail housing fees.
Participants in the community corrections program have committed a crime that carries a jail or prison sentence. Prior to being accepted into the program, each offender is screened by the circuit judge or magistrate to determine whether they would be a suitable candidate for community corrections.
"Community corrections isn't for everyone," Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong said. "Participants are held to very strict compliance standards and are expected to comply fully with the program or be sent to jail. If a person is motivated to change their life, community corrections will provide a person with the tools to be successful."
Once referred to community corrections by the judicial officer, the offender is interviewed by the community corrections staff and tested for drugs and alcohol. If the offender is accepted into the program, they are subject to a very strict regimen. They must find a full-time job. Until employment is secured, they are each required to perform 40 hours of community service per week.
"Community service is used not as punishment but as a motivator for the offender to find full-time employment," Carter said. "Employment and community service is only part of the requirements of each participant. The offender is also required to physically check in with staff five days a week. If the offender is not at work, community service or in the office, they are to be home at all times.
"Our staff or local law enforcement will perform random home visits and if the offender is not home when they are supposed to be, there will be a sanction enforced, and this sanction could come in the form of incarceration," Carter said.
Participants are also subject to random drug and alcohol screening seven days a week. North Central's Randolph County office has administered 3,518 drug/alcohol screens since 2005. Carter said the program also focuses on rehabilitation.
"The goal of this program is to hold people accountable and offer the offender services to better educate them," Carter said. "I truly feel that the more educated an individual is, the less likely they are to commit a future crime."
Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor said the program is a valuable asset because it helps offset some of the regional jail expenses and the money saved can be used for other things.
"The community corrections program has evolved over the years to an organization that has become a financial benefit to the county," Taylor said. "We noticed it quite a bit more last fiscal year when we had budgeted around $900,000 for the regional jail bill and, when it was all said and done, it was more like $600,000. That in part can be attributed to the county's community corrections program. It allows us to reallocate the money we roll over and put it into other areas of the budget. For example, we recently committed approximately $160,000 in computer upgrades for the sheriff's office, the circuit clerk's office and the county clerk's office. So it gives us a little more flexibility to purchase items that we may not have been able to purchase outright or had to save up for."
NCCC currently offers offenders individual therapy, GED classes, parenting classes, female victim's group, relapse prevention, anger management, BIPPS (domestic violence), Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.
All of the classes and services listed are offered in-house at the Community Corrections office located in the Judicial Annex on Randolph Avenue.