Whenever a government unit or a business provides opportunities for some people but not for others because of racial, gender or other differences, it runs the risk of being sued for discrimination.
That’s the situation Madison County finds itself in, regarding a work-release program for women convicted of crimes. You see, no such program exists in the county. But a work-release program for men does exist.
“Women should be afforded every opportunity that the men get,” defense attorney and public defender Jimmy McDole said in an article published Oct. 23 in The Herald Bulletin. “They should get that chance. It’s a great program that should be available for both.”
Not that Madison County officials haven’t had good intentions.
The county paid about $125,000 for two buildings on the Youth Center campus off Mounds Road to be used for women’s work-release. Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings estimates the county could afford to spend about $200,000 annually for the program. But that’s only about a third of the money needed.
County officials had hoped that the remaining $400,000 would come from a grant from the Indiana Department of Correction. An application for the grant was filed in the spring, but the state has not yet approved it.
Many people affiliated with the Madison County Justice Center have been pitching the idea of women’s work release for years. The program would help get troubled women out of jail and on the road to productive lives. The Madison County Jail typically has a female inmate population of 60-80.
But the program still isn’t a reality. Money and other priorities always get in the way.
Well, something has to be done to make work release for convicted women in Madison County a reality. Perhaps some of the money set aside for the men’s work-release program should be used for both genders.
Otherwise, Madison County is failing to do the right thing — and exposing itself to a potential lawsuit.
In summary Something has to be done to make work release for convicted women in Madison County a reality.