Keep the court where it is: where the people need it!

According to the NWI Times, on Friday, February 8, 2013, there will be a court hearing about whether to grant a restraining order to keep the child support department of the Juvenile Court in Gary, Indiana. The judge would like to consolidate her court in Crown point. I think this is a move that disproportionately and adversely affects the poor, minorities and women!

This move will inconvenience thousands of people, many of whom do not have transportation.  And just exactly how do supporters of the move suggest that people get to court with no county-wide transportation? Are these the same people who have repeatedly shot down a food and beverage tax in Lake County that would pay for a county bus service?

Remember, generally you are required to appear in court; it is not like an invitation to tea that you can easily reschedule. This will only add more stress to an already stressful situation. And, missed court dates due to transportation issues will be more costly for everyone concerned.

This is a move that would seriously hurt those who can least afford it. The cost in lost work time, gasoline and stress on poor families far outweighs any personal convenience efficiency gained by the judge and her staff. Leave the services where the people who need it are at. I am sure the judge and her staff have cars….

5 thoughts on “Keep the court where it is: where the people need it!”

  1. Glinda – would be interesting to see the difference between transporting all the county employees to remote locations a couple days a week or running a bus from northern Lake County to the county building. Not sure I can guess, but the least expensive options would seem to be best for the taxpayers who are subsidizing the convenience of these justice services.

    1. Steve, I think that there is a lot more to this story than just efficiency. The judge’s courtrooms in Gary were remodeled over the last few years at a taxpayer cost of $180,000. She is leaving to take a new job as director of Indiana DCS. Why make this change now, instead of leaving it for her successor?

      I personally think that the cost of this move can’t be measured in just the cost of the court expenses or just the cost of running a bus to Crown Point. Many of the people who use this court are poor, women and minorities. The impact of such a move would make it a greater hardship on people who can least afford it. My son, an social worker, often had to pick up clients who had no transportation just so they could make it to the Gary court. Crown Point was a nightmare. Trust me, such a move would have farther reaching consequences than one might think.

      The lack of transportation is an serious problem that needs to be solved in Northwest Indiana. In Lake County, the loss in availability of public transportation over the last ten years is disheartening. 🙁

  2. Glinda, as an aside I think the BlogNWI and Christopher Hedges links are either dead or more business homepage now on your sidebar.

    I believe we are entering a phase in the State of Indiana wherein courts and township assistance will be centralized to the county seat. I agree with you that this is going to be a hardship on single working moms and readily agree we need to look more closely at ways of using tele-videoconferencing and transportation to help. But I sure don’t think that every municipality can afford to maintain a traffic court … or that the county should or can afford to maintain numerous satellite courts.

    I know in the cases of some of the municipalities they just don’t have the money to pay the judges or their staff and are now wanting to the county to take back over the justice system.

    This is a bigger issue actually, as the tax caps will also eventually cause some of these areas to look to get rid of their own police force and rely on the county sheriff to police the entire county instead of only the non-annexed areas. All the county tax payers pay for county sheriff and then in the case of the cities and towns, they get to pay twice for police protection. There aren’t enough tax dollars to pay twice for anything.

  3. Steve, I agree that there are some hard choices coming up, but I firmly believe those choices need to be made with study, planning, forethought and compassion. Sometimes, the bottom line is not just money. 🙁

    But I *am* a taxpayer in Lake County, and I have some concerns. I think the taxpayers of Gary deserve to know why they spent $180,000 on renovations made to the judge’s specifications if the court is leaving. I want to know why isn’t the judge’s successor making this decision? Why does this change have to be made right now, especially if the judge is leaving anyway?

    Those people who use the Gary court are taxpayers too. I’d like to see a decision that works for everybody.

  4. And, Steve, I have been planning an overhaul on the blog – I know that there are some outdated links and quite a few more that need to be on there. Things got delayed when my mother got sick…. 🙁

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