COLUMBIA CITY— Corrections is a term that typically makes people think of jail, but it also means preventing individuals from returning to jail.

Case managers play an important role in getting people in community corrections started on the right path.

Katee McBride is a case manager for Whitley County Community Corrections’ Work Release Program. Her job helps create a starting point for people in the community corrections facility.

“My main role is assisting individuals and making sure that they are complying with court orders. I also guide them on any type of outstanding financial obligations they might have,” McBride said.

Meetings, paperwork and evaluating risk levels are all part of the tasks that McBride is charged with in a given day. A large bulk of her time is spent filing paper work and making sure she keeps things in accordance with the Indiana Department of Corrections, she said. The other major part of her day is spent meeting with the individuals she works with.

McBride has learned a lot from the people she’s worked with. Her coworkers helped improve her understanding and desire to work in corrections, McBride said.

One reason McBride believes that the work release program is helpful is because it provides structure.

“Structure seems to be the key,” McBride said. “That is one of the big things we talk about before individuals get released, is how they can continue to keep structure in their life, to make sure they continue doing well, just as they had been when they were under our supervision.”

When McBride started out working in corrections, she was an administrative assistant. It was a job that she took when she was trying to find a job in college. She ended up enjoying her work. Whitley County’s work program gives people an opportunity to improve themselves McBride said.

The work release program helps teach people how to create a resume and puts them through a series of mock interviews, McBride said. Creating a way for people who don’t have these skills to learn and practice them while they search for a job.

Work release requires that the individual live at the community corrections facility. The facility can house 95 individuals currently – 14 women and 62 men.

“A majority of the individuals realize that community corrections programing is a privilege, and so a lot of times we’ll get individuals here that really are trying,” McBride said.

The Indiana Department of Corrections defines recidivism as a return to incarceration within three years of the offender’s date of release.

The work release program sets up a foundation to help curb recidivism. The latest recorded rate of recidivism in Indiana was 38.2 percent. The rate is higher for men, 39.8 percent, than for women, 28.9 percent.

As of this publication’s deadline the recidivism rates for the work release program were not available, according to Paula Worden, director of Whitley County community corrections. But, none the less, those involved in the program believe they are seeing results.