Stimulus Money to Fund Program for Residents on Parole, Probation
Reeger, Jennifer, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Later this year, some criminals on probation or parole in Westmoreland County will be able to meet with a probation officer, receive drug-and-alcohol treatment and mental health services, and learn how to write a resume.
County commissioners yesterday accepted a $300,000 state grant to establish a Day Reporting Center in Greensburg as an alternative sentencing program that could alleviate jail overcrowding and lower recidivism rates.
The grant, given to the county by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, is part of $748,000 in federal stimulus dollars being used to fund the program for the first two years, said Bruno Mediate, a supervisor with Westmoreland County Adult Probation who chaired a committee that has been studying the program since 2008.
The program, which will be housed at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Inc.'s facility on South Maple Avenue, could open in late summer or early fall.
As many as 200 offenders, who will be ordered to the program through the court system, will be served by the center, Mediate said.
Many of them will be probation and parole violators who are having difficulty getting through drug-and-alcohol treatment, Mediate said. About 75 percent of those who fail to complete probation or parole have drug and alcohol problems, and half of those have mental-health issues as well.
"We kind of call them the revolving door-type people," Mediate said.
On top of that, some may have learning disabilities and haven't earned a high school diploma or GED. They also may need parenting and anger management classes or need help finding a job.
But getting those services often means traveling to different locations, something that may be difficult
"We thought, why don't we bring all these fragmented services together, bring them under one roof, work together as a team and make a program where people could come together every day if needed to receive a multitude of services," Mediate said.
Offenders ordered to the program will be evaluated on a case-by- case basis, Mediate said. However, violent offenders will not be admitted.
The program will cost the county nothing for the first two years, but Mediate believes it can be self-sustaining even after the grant money dries up. …