• 68°

New facility offers judges sentencing alternative

FRANKLIN FURNACE – A community-based corrections facility that will provide a sentencing alternative for Lawrence County judges will soon open in neighboring Scioto County.

Tuesday, June 05, 2001

FRANKLIN FURNACE – A community-based corrections facility that will provide a sentencing alternative for Lawrence County judges will soon open in neighboring Scioto County.

STARS Community Justice Center, directed by Dan Hieronimus, will soon open its doors, providing a treatment facility for offenders in nine counties, including Lawrence County.

Hieronimus said the in-house facility will initially hold 60 offenders for 4 to 6 months. During that time, he explained, the inmates will work in an "intensive" program, learning how to "reintegrate into the community."

Hieronimus said the inmates will learn anger control techniques, job seeking skills and how to keep a job once they have become employed. He said the offenders will also learn how to manage money, provide community service and make financial restitution to victims.

In addition to safety, one of the primary goals of the program, Hieronimus said, is to restore offenders to being functional members of their communities.

In order to accomplish this goal, inmates will live and work in a "boot camp" style atmosphere called a "therapeutic community." Hieronimus explained this type of treatment requires the offenders to be responsible for one another’s actions.

He said residents will not only monitor their own actions, but the actions of others. By doing this, the offender learns they are part of a community – inmates learn their actions have consequences on others, he explained.

The treatment doesn’t end once the offender leaves the facility, either, Hieronimus explained. He said STARS staff members are working with probation officers in the nine counties the site serves and the group has received a grant allowing the STARS staff to offer an after-care program that will help offenders once they leave the site.

The community based corrections facility stems from a program started by Ohio legislator Clifford Skeens who saw a need for offenders to return service to their own community- the community they have offended.

The program requires criminals to make restitution to the community they’ve offended and the people they’ve hurt with their deviant behavior. It is hoped that by working in their own community, offenders will realize they are a part of the community and negative actions have a negative impact on the community has a whole.

The STARS staff will move into the new facility sometime this week and STARS is hoped to receive offenders by the end of summer or early fall.

Hieronimus said community based corrections facilities are funded by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is overseen by a Judicial Corrections Board. The board is composed of judges in the nine counties served, including Lawrence County judges W. Richard Walton and Frank J. McCown.