STATEHOUSE (Feb. 17, 2012) – State Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) met with local and state officials today to discuss a “vital opportunity” for families in Southwestern Indiana — the creation of a juvenile detention center or program in Posey County.
Officials joining Tomes at the 11 a.m. meeting held at the Hovey House in Mount Vernon included:
• Posey County Sheriff Greg Oeth
• Mount Vernon Mayor John Tucker and his office’s executive secretary Sherry Willis
• Mount Vernon Chief of Police Grant Belote
• Director of Posey County Community Corrections Scott Smith
• Posey County Prosecuting Attorney Travis Clowers
• State Rep. Wendy McNamara of Mount Vernon
• Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) Legislative Services Director Tim Brown
• IDOC Community Services Director Deborah Braun
• IDOC Division of Youth Services Program Director Chris Blessinger
“Today’s meeting focused on a vital opportunity we can give families in Southwestern Indiana: Redirecting young people who have made mistakes, so that they can lead productive lives as good citizens in the future,” Tomes said. “By seeing to it that our young people get the help they need close to home, we can help prevent them from becoming involved in more serious crimes and being sent to prisons meant for hardened criminals.”
Tomes said the meeting was a good preliminary discussion of how area leaders can work together to bring a juvenile detention center or program to Posey County — a suggestion that came straight from local residents.
“It’s amazing how big things can come from small ideas,” Tomes said. “Throughout the past year, I’ve heard from several Southwestern Indiana Hoosiers who have said the Posey County area needs a facility that will allow parents of children who have run into problems with the law to get help without having to travel long distances. The lack of such a facility in Posey County and, really, surrounding counties is a serious issue — probably more serious than what most residents in our area recognize. The closest is in Evansville, but it's expected to provide services for many Southwestern counties and is often, as a result, full.”
Tomes said things just seemed to fall into place after he contacted local officials about the issue.
“On Feb. 9, I happened upon a meeting at the Statehouse regarding Marion County's ‘Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative’ (JDAI) — an effort to reduce unnecessary detention of youth in the justice system while still ensuring community safety,” Tomes said. “I spoke with Marion County Judge Marilyn Moores and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David about this program, telling them about our needs in Posey County. They were pleased to hear what we are working on and suggested JDAI serve as a model.”
In the future, Tomes said he plans to hold public meetings to get more local input. In the meantime, Hoosiers can contact him on this matter at Senator.Tomes@iga.in.gov or by calling 1-800-382-9467.
“This meeting was very preliminary but valuable,” Tomes said. “I’m delighted so many fine people — those who serve at the state and local level — were able to come together to recognize this need in our area.”
A high-resolution picture of Tomes is now available in the Caucus Photo Gallery at http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_republicans/2355.htm