City launches community parole program, hopes to save millions of dollars

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INDIANAPOLIS – For every percentage point the rate of recidivism among ex-offenders living in Indianapolis drops, the city saves $1.5 million.

If that figure by the City County Council Re-Entry Commission is accurate, millions of taxpayer dollars could be saved by a newly launched Community Parole Program.

“This isn’t the police standing over you, waiting to put you back in jail situation,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Brian Mahone. “That’s why it’s so important that we have the community part. This a welcome back to the community.”

Officers on IMPD’s Northwest District were engaged with a state parole agent in a pilot program to both monitor and mentor parolees in their area.

The northwest side recidivism rate for those violent offenders in the program was 12%, down from the state average of 33%.

“When we look at a lot of our crime and the crime that’s been committed, they’re not isolated to one crime per person. People are out there re-offending time and time again, so, if you can change one life, you’ve changed the life of several victims,” said IMPD District Commander John Conley.

The program which will be gradually expanded throughout the city this year brings the resources of several municipal and not-for-profit agencies to the effort to keep parolees legal after they leave prison.

“They do great work in providing support of job training, education, helping people get their GED, counseling, parenting skills,” said Lt. Mark Wood who launched the pilot program last year.

IMPD will partner with Fathers and Families Center to work with young ex-offenders.

“Where we step in is we become mentors, guide rights, road maps for the young men,” said Roderic Reid. “We have found that many of the young men aren’t bad, they’re just misguided. They have not received the guidance. Many of them do not have fathers in their lives or significant male role models.”

Metro police say closer monitoring of parolees protects not only the neighborhood from crime by ex-convicts but also the offenders from becoming victims themselves.

“Our objective is to try to stop some of this stuff from happening so we don’t even have a victim,” said Conley. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. It can’t be done. We have to find a way to prevent it and as we look at ways to prevent it.

“If we can transform lives one at a time, we can transform whole communities.”