(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Commissioners have chosen to fire the county’s Director of Community Corrections.
Rochelle Brown was relieved of her duties by a unanimous vote of the La Porte County Commissioners at their regular meeting Wednesday morning. The action stems from her handling of the death of an inmate while on work release. The incident happened last Friday. Details regarding the death were not released to the public. However, the information was not conveyed to the county commissioners, either, or to the county prosecutor. “None of the commissioners have been notified,” said Commissioner Joe Haney. “We found out about it second-hand.”
Haney said the commissioners can’t do their jobs to protect the public’s interests if they’re left in the dark. “When someone in custody passes away, there is a notification process that needs to be handled fairly quickly,” he said, “to make sure in an investigation things are documented properly. It’s an entire-county event when something like this happens.”
According to Haney, Brown's failure to communicate was only her most recent professional missstep. “It’s a huge transgression,” Haney continued, “and unfortunately it’s just the latest issue that came up that brought this entire situation to a head.” Back in April, the Community Corrections Board issued a vote of no confidence against Brown based on several other issues. Haney could not comment specifically on those issues, but said there was at least one glaring indicator of Brown’s poor performance as director. “It’s public knowledge that in the past eighteen months we’ve had an over-one-hundred percent turnover rate,” he said, “meaning that we have cycled through in eighteen months more employees than currently work at the [Community Corrections] facility. So there’s been a number of outstanding issues.”
The Community Corrections facility in La Porte mostly oversees work release, community service, and other conditions of probation for criminal offenders. Brown had been director of the department since April 2020.
Mericka Beaty has been named acting director until commissioners can name a permanent replacement.