INDIANAPOLIS - Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are making an effort to help ex-offenders get back on the right path in a one-of-a-kind program.
At IMPD Northwest District headquarters, IMPD officers and a state parole officer meet almost immediately with newly released ex-offenders to offer assistance with jobs, substance abuse and mental-health counseling.
"When you're doing these positive steps, the chances of committing a crime or going back to DOC are reduced significantly," IMPD Officer Larry Stargel said.
The program has shown success in the past nine months. Crime has dropped in the Northwest District and offenders who seek assistance through the program have a failure rate of just 12 percent, compared to the other ex-offenders who return to the Department of Correction at a rate of up to 50 percent.
Moreover, the program recognizes that police can't simply arrest their way out of high-crime problems.
"When you put yourself in position to be the next victim because you made bad choices, we can help you get out of the game," IMPD Chief Rick Hite said.
The city plans to work with every social-service provider that gets government money, opening up hundreds of doors to ex-offenders who want to help themselves stay out of prison.
"We're not working with just the parolee. We're working with the entire family to make available services to ensure, as Chief Hite says, get these people out of the game," Julie Fidler with the Department of Metropolitan Development said.
Each year, more than 5,000 offenders are released from prison and return to the streets of Indianapolis.
According to a local study, helping just 50 ex-offenders avoid a return to prison will save Indianapolis taxpayers $1.5 million.
City leaders and IMPD are expected to announce next week that the program will expand to all six policing districts.
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