Storm knocks out Monroe County justice committee

The storm that blew through the Bloomington area around 4 p.m. on Thursday knocked out power to at least 21,000 Duke Energy customers in the region, according to the power company’s outage map.

Even though the Monroe County courthouse still had power, a 4:30 p.m. meeting of the county council’s justice fiscal advisory committee (JFAC) was canceled.

The chairship of the committee rotates from meeting to meeting among three county councilors, and it was Jennifer Crossley’s call to cancel the meeting. The other two county councilors serving on the committee are Kate Wiltz and Peter Iversen. Several non-voting members are also included on the committee.

Crossley told The B Square that for people traveling from outside the downtown it would have meant driving around crashes and non-working traffic signals, so she didn’t want anyone to take unnecessary risks.

The missed meeting means the committee will have to compress its work a bit. When the county council created the committee in May, the council’s resolution set a deadline for the completion  of its assigned work—by the end of the year.

But the resolution sets a September timeframe as the target for delivering a report to the full council.

The report is supposed to make recommendations on priorities for funding of mental health, substance abuse treatment, and a new correctional facility. JFAC is also supposed to give guidance on investments to prevent individuals from entering the justice system, reducing recidivism, and promotion of equity. JFAC is also supposed to establish timelines for implementation, and identify funding sources within permissible uses of tax revenues.

The county council, as the fiscal body of the county, formed the committee to focus on the financial picture for the county government’s response to the work of two consultants, delivered two years ago. The reports from the consultants concluded that the current county jail facility, at 7th Street and College Avenue, is failing to provide constitutional levels of care.

County commissioners formed a community justice response committee (CJRC) to address the work of the consultants.

But the meetings of the full CJRC were suspended by the commissioners in mid-April.

The JFAC’s work schedule reflects the timeframe of the county council’s resolution, which calls for a report to be delivered to the full council at the end of the Sept. 18 committee meeting.

The JFAC meeting that was supposed to take place on Thursday had as its topic “Intercept Zero: Diversion.” That’s an early point when attempts can be made to use resources other than jail to help people.

Crossley told The B Square that the topic won’t fall by the wayside at future committee meetings, just because Thursday’s meeting was canceled.

The next meeting of the JFAC is set for next Monday, July 3 at 4:30 p.m. The topic of Monday’s meeting is “Intercept Four: Reentry.”

Late Thursday evening, the Monday JFAC meeting was marked “canceled” on the county’s website calendar. But county council president Kate Wiltz, who is scheduled to chair that meeting, told The B Square the notation is a mistake, and will be corrected first thing Friday morning.

Wiltz cautioned that Monday’s committee meeting might have to be canceled if not enough people are able to attend.