Breaking News
More () »

Southern Indiana county gives offenders community service instead of jail to reduce population

An Indiana judge is giving offenders a chance to serve their time outside of a cell and to lower the population in jails.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In Hillcrest Cemetery, you can find a group of men working to clean up the perimeter of the cemetery.

There is an undesirable amount of overgrown brush, due to a low budget and years of growth.

A group of Utica residents was the first to tackle the project, but they soon realized they needed more hands to help.

Greg Balmer is one of the men who came to help.

"This community service gives me the opportunity to not have a felony on my record, which would cause a loss of a lot of rights," he said.

Balmer is completing 240 hours of community service as part of his sentence for his second operating while under the influence offense.

"This is something that is not putting me in a cell. I can do something and give back to the community.

Even if it's small scale it's helping someone," he said.

Credit: WHAS-TV
Greg Balmer

It's an attempt by Clark County to keep people out of the legal system by holding low-level offenders accountable outside of a jail cell.

Clark County is sentencing low-level offenders to community service to lower the jail population.

Judge Lisa Glickfield is a newly elected judge in Clark County and an avid supporter of the program. She said jail is not beneficial for low-level offenders.

"Studies have shown for these lower-level offenses jail is not the answer. Yes, it is punitive. But the evidence-based practices show that a lower risk individual if you incarcerate those individuals, they are more apt to learn criminal activity," she said.

Balmer agreed. He has been able to work while completing his community service.

The program allows him to choose when and where he completes his hours. He says it provides him with the flexibility to work around his schedule and make a living.

"If they are doing this they can continue working, they can continue doing other things that are productive. It gives them the opportunity to step forward and put that bad deed behind them," he said.

Clark County has always had a community service program, but Glickfield says this is one way they are attempting to bring it to the forefront.

Contact reporter Elle Smith at esmith@whas11.com or on her social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter.  

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.  

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed 


Before You Leave, Check This Out