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Bartholomew County Tries New Program To Reduce Drug Offenses

Bartholomew County is making a push to identify people who might have drug and alcohol addictions by screening them when they’re arrested for other crimes.

cop car

Photo: Emily Loftis/WFIU News

Bartholomew County officials hope the new program will reduce recidivism.

Bartholomew County criminal justice officials are starting to screen people for addictions when they’re arrested for other offenses.  Police question the suspects, gather information about their employment and education, and check their police records.

Bartholomew County Superior Court Judge Chris Monroe says people who admit to using drugs or being addicted to alcohol are then referred to a rehabilitation program.

“So many of the cases we have deal with people who have substance abuse issues, so if they are willing to address those issues early on, then we can get them moved along.”

Those who have been arrested have the right to opt out and consult with their lawyers about whether they should divulge more information to the police.

Criminal law professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Craig Bradley says information police find out in questioning could be used against defendants in court, but admitting to an addiction and enrolling in a rehabilitation program could also help them get a lesser sentence.

“Usually that’s something that goes on in sentencing. The judge tries to get the defended to agree to join some program and waves his sentence anyway if it’s a first offense, but to find out that he’s already done it is going to make the judge favorably inclined I would think to him.”

Bartholomew County officials say they’ve not had enough time to determine whether the program is reducing the recidivism rate, but say similar programs have worked in other counties.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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