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Interim removed from Grizzel's probation title

Jim Grizzel
October 01, 2008
Crawford County Probation Officer Jim Grizzel, who has served as acting chief probation officer since May, after the resignation of Ray Harris, has been promoted to the position on a permanent basis.

Grizzel, who has been with the probation department since 1999, hopes to implement a few of his own policies but plans to continue working as a team with local and state law enforcement and the county judicial system.

"We actually lean toward rehabilitation," Grizzel said. "We work closely with Hoosier Hills PACT and Southern Hills (Counseling Center), and we've had a lot of successes. But in the past, we had almost zero success rate for meth users. Now, with new programs and counseling, things are improving. We have a program where other offenders actually do the counseling, and it is working well. And we also go to the high school as much as possible and, with the principal, try to help young people stay on the right track."

Grizzel said most probation offices in the state have at least five or six probation officers, but in Crawford County there are only two, Grizzel and Jessica Jenkins.

"We have over 350 cases plus about 90 juveniles," Grizzel, 31, said. "Jessica handles the females, and I like the juveniles. Then, we split the adults. It's a big load on us, but Stephanie Moffatt, who works in the front office, helps out a lot and we get a lot of help from the prosecutor's office. Judge (Lynn) Lopp gives us support and guidance, and we're able to accomplish a lot."

Although alcohol is, and has always been, an ongoing problem with adults who are in the probation system, juveniles tend to abuse prescription drugs more often than anything else.

"Prescription drugs are easier for young people to get," Grizzel said. "They often get them from their parents' or grandparents' medicine cabinet. And out of 18 adults that entered the system in August, 13 were drug- or alcohol-related violations."

Some of the office's cases come from court referrals, and some from schools. But many of the juveniles come because their parents bring them.

"A lot of our juvenile cases come because their parents are having a hard time controlling them. Some of those can actually do fine with just an informal probation. It's against the law to disobey your parents. But we work with every person who comes here. We want to help.

"If they can't find a job, we try to help them find one. And once they're on probation, we have expectations. We expect them to keep a job, let us know where they're living, and pay their probation fees every month. We also have home monitoring. With that, they have to wear an ankle bracelet that is equipped with a GPS system. That allows us to track them. I've surprised people before when I would call them while they're driving down the road and tell them that they are speeding and should slow down. But it shows them that we know what's going on."

Grizzel admitted that he likes many of the people who are on probation and that there are those who learn from the experience and go on to improve their lives.

"We have very few who are out of compliance," he added. "And all of us communicate well with kids. We have a few resources, and those we have are good ones. We work hard to make the system work, and a lot of people do what they can to make our job easier. The auditor and clerk's offices, and the whole courthouse is good to us here. And even the judge is accessible if we need him. A lot of county probation offices aren't as lucky."

Grizzel and his wife, Kim, have three children and live near Marengo.

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