The Johnson City-based organization's Correctional Counseling Institute has been administering the misdemeanor probation program for Greene County General Sessions Court.
It replaced the Knoxville-based East Tennessee Human Resources Agency in that role here in November 1999, according to Judge Wright.
"The selling point for the court was that FTHRA was going to provide (rural transportation) services in Greene County and needed revenue (generated by probation fees) in order to get matching grant funds to increase those services," the judge said.
Specifically, the judge noted, FTHRA officials said in 1999 that another Northeast Tennessee Rural Public Transportation (N.E. Trans) van could be added to the agency's fleet serving Greene County if FTHRA could assume responsibility for administering the fees.
On Monday afternoon, Frank L. Adams, FTHRA's executive director, and other agency officials met with Judge Wright at the Greene County Courthouse to report to the judge on both the probation program's performance and the status of FTHRA's rural transportation efforts here.
Eight Vans In County
Adams and Steve Ferrell, FTHRA's transportation director, told the judge that FTHRA now has eight vans - half of which are equipped to transport riders in wheelchairs - assigned to Greene County.
Among the eight vans serving Greene County is a 2001 model, which FTHRA has been able to add because of the financial assistance provided by revenues from probation fees, according to Ferrell.
"We have provided in excess of 20,000 trips this past year in Greene County alone," Ferrell said, adding that his agency also provides rural transportation services in seven other Northeast Tennessee counties as well. "Anyone in Greene County who needs transportation, we will transport," he said.
That includes trips to doctors' offices, grocery stores and any other location clients may need to go, according to Ferrell.
Adams said that because of the revenue generated by the misdemeanor probation program in Greene County, FTHRA has been able to "enhance its entire (van) fleet" here.
"We've brought three new vans to Greene County this year, and that's something we could not have done without this program," he said.
Judge Wright responded that he was happy to learn of the positive impact on the FTHRA rural transportation program that the probation program is having.
"Many people don't have a way to get to appointments with their doctors or even to the grocery store," Judge Wright said. "Others are disabled and can't go anywhere by themselves. It does my heart good to see them get these benefits as a result of the probation program."
Phone Numbers To Call
Ferrell said that Greene County residents who need transportation may make appointments to be picked up by calling 1-800-528-7776 by noon the day before transportation is needed.
After 5 p.m., an FTHRA spokesperson said, customers should call 1-800-827-8525 to arrange or cancel appointments.
There is a cost for the transportation service. An agency spokesperson noted that, in Greene County, for example, a trip of 6-15 miles round trip costs $14.20, and a round trip of 31-50 miles costs $22.20.
Ferrell noted that arrangements can be made to transport persons to destinations in the Tri-Cities and even as far as Knoxville and Nashville. For distant trips, hourly charges are applied to keep costs down, he noted.
Misdemeanor Program Discussed
A report submitted to Wright by J. Sam Fann, director of FTHRA's Correctional Counseling Institute, indicates that between Nov. 1, 1999, and June 30, 2001, the misdemeanor probation program in General Sessions Court collected $418,907.53 in fines and courts costs.
"That's the benefit directly of the misdemeanor probation program to Greene County and the State of Tennessee financially," Judge Wright said. "But the benefit really is, hopefully, that the people on probation get some assistance, get some encouragement, get to work and get their GED diplomas if they need them. That's the success of the program, when you can get somebody an education, get them a job and maybe they don't come back to court."
The misdemeanor-probation program report submitted to Judge Wright on Monday also indicates that between November 1999 and last month, 470 Greene Countians successfully completed probationary sentences under the supervision of FTHRA's Correctional Counseling Institute (CCI).
The 470 offenders who successfully completed probation here represent an 89 percent success rate, according to Fann, who noted that he believes the success rate is increasing in Greene County.
During the same period, probationers completed 28,335 hours of community service, and nine probationers earned GED diplomas.
Many charitable organizations, the judge noted, have benefited from community service work performed by probationers "without having to pay for it."
Also, between November 1999 and June 30, some 199 arrest warrants were issued against probationers for violating the terms of their probation, and 58 persons had their probation terminated. Another 91 persons transferred to the jurisdiction of other courts.
Many of those on probation have, between November 1999 and June 30, also received a wide variety of counseling services, according to the report.
Counseling Services Offered
Counseling services included:
• alcohol and drug counseling provided to 67 persons;
• 240 hours spent in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings;
• anti-theft classes attended by 35 persons;
• anger-management classes attended by 37 persons;
• domestic-violence counseling attended by 57 persons;
• Level I DUI classes completed by 90 persons;
• DUI classes for multiple offenders completed by 24 persons; and
• defensive driving classes completed by five persons.
"As you see participation in these classes increase, I think you will see an increase in the success rate of those on probation," Fann said, noting that Judge Wright is incorporating new programs to aid juvenile offenders as well.
"I think that will help us in the adult program, because we won't be getting as many people down as the juveniles become adults," Fann said.
The cost of the classes is covered by the fees probationers pay to take part in the court-ordered classes.
The report submitted to Judge Wright on Monday indicates that 10 weeks of drug and alcohol counseling sessions cost a probationer $200, while six months of domestic violence classes cost the client $300, for example.
Other class costs include:
• DUI school, $150;
• multiple offender DUI school, $300;
• violence prevention, $300; and
• defensive driving, $50.
Currently, according to the report, the four-person staff of CCI's Greeneville office is supervising 424 misdemeanor probationers for Judge Wright.