The enhanced pretrial assessment program has been working well for those being served, the program coordinator told the Dubois County Council Monday.

Melissa Niehaus talked to the council about adding a third position to the program. Just like the other employee, funding the third position will be covered by a grant from the Indiana Office of Court Services.

The enhanced services are being done to comply with a rule established by the Indiana Supreme Court as of January 2020. In Criminal Rule 26, the court stated that courts should use the results of evidence-based assessments and other relevant information to determine whether a person who is arrested presents a substantial risk of flight, danger to themselves or danger to the public. This was enacted so that people who do not pose a threat are not held in jail because they cannot afford to pay a bond.

Since the enhanced pretrial program started, assessments have been done on more tha 615 individuals, Niehaus said. More than 600 are monitored for various actions like making it to their court dates and not having any new charges, she said. The pretrial employees also help people in the program connect to other needed services.

So far, 89% have not gotten any new charges and 97% have appeared for their court hearings. "So we're doing good things," Niehaus said.

Danielle Traylor joined the program as a pretrial services officer, taking a pay cut from her previous position with Dubois County Community Corrections. "She wanted to work with this program and see it grow," Niehaus said. Indiana Office of Court Services has provided some grant funding to increase Traylor's salary to the level of other case managers; Niehaus asked the county to appropriate that grant funding to the position.

Niehaus also requested that the third position be added, which is also covered by grant funding.

The council appropriated the $67,445 grant for the third position and told Niehaus to go through the official process of completing a salary adjustment form for the increase.
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