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STAR earns award from state

At this year’s Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections Conference, a local facility was honored for its dedication to reducing the likelihood that offenders will return to a life of crime.

The STAR Community Justice Center in Franklin Furnace was awarded the Clifford Skeen Award at the conference, which was Oct. 8 in Columbus.

The Bureau of Community Sanctions staff evaluated community-based correctional facilities, halfway houses and Community Correction Act programs on characteristics that align with evidence-based practices in community corrections best practices and research-based program design, adaptation to performance-based standards positive contributions to the criminal justice system and their local communities and program integrity and quality assurance activities.

STAR also received the designation in 2011.

J.T. Holt, deputy director and legal counsel for STAR, said the implementation of new programs at the facility was key in garnering the award.

“We have developed a psychology department, a mental health treatment department, we have partnered with Marshall University,” Holt said. “… We’ve started a vocational department and partnered with Collins Career Center to offer six different programs.”

Holt said STAR residents who complete the vocational programs earn certifications once they successfully complete the STAR program.

According to Scott Flowers, media spokesperson with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, STAR had top ratings in its audits as well.

“This is due to demonstrating a commitment to implementing evidence based practices and treatment modalities that are shown to decrease the likelihood that an offender will engage in future criminal behavior,” Flowers said.

Nationally, the percentage of offenders who return to prison is about 50 percent, Holt said. Because of Ohio’s commitment to CBCF programs, Ohio’s overall recidivism rate is about 28 percent.

It also cost less to send an offender to a program like STAR’s, Holt said.

“It cost about $53,000 a year to house a person in prison in Ohio,” he said. “About half the people who go to prison will return. At STAR, each diversion is less than $8,000, and we have them there for about six months. The recidivism rate is 10 to 15 percent.”

STAR is also in the process of relocating to a portion of the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility, a move Holt said would create more than 50 jobs for the area.

“The fact that we are moving, that was Mr. (Eddie) Philabaun (STAR director) vision for the future of community corrections in southeast Ohio and the state,” Holt said. The state agreed with Mr. Philabaun.”

The Clifford Skeen Award is given in honor of the late, eight-term Ohio Representative, Clifford Skeen, who sponsored the Community Correction Act passed by the Ohio Legislature in July 1979. The purpose of this act was to reduce the number of non-dangerous offenders being sent to state prisons.