Judge Richard Walsh, who has held a post in the Court of Common Pleas that serves Franklin and Fulton counties for 15 years, won the Judge Linda K. Ludgate Award for Excellence in CJAB Leadership. Judge Walsh was a force for change in the correctional change in Franklin County, including his complete support for an innovative day reporting center in Franklin County. Since opening in 2006, the Franklin County Day Reporting Center has helped reduce overcrowding at the local jail, eliminated the need to house inmates in nearby counties, helped the county build a new but scaled down, less costly jail, and most importantly, helped reduce recidivism.
In a statement, John Wetzel, Pennsylvania secretary of corrections said:
“Judge Walsh’s commitment to justice extends beyond the hearings and trials he presides over. His judicial leadership and involvement in the Criminal Justice Advisory Board has brought meaningful change beyond the bench – throughout the criminal justice community in Franklin County.”
Judge Walsh helped Franklin County implement a Criminal Justice Advisory Board, which was instrumental in transforming the local criminal justice system. He learned about CJABs after attending a trial judge’s conference, and he was convinced it would bring stakeholders in the local criminal justice system together to explore solutions, would help the county save money and reinvent how it managed criminal offenders.
With Judge Walsh in the lead, and with a Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency grant, the Franklin County CJAB was established in 1999. After years of planning, a key initiative was the development of a new jail that was hundreds of beds smaller than consultants had suggested – saving the county $10 million in construction costs alone – and adding the DRC as a “release valve.” The Day Reporting Center delivers cognitive behavioral treatment programs that have reduced offender risk and reduced recidivism. Franklin County has won several national and state awards for the work of its CJAB and the implementation of the Day Reporting Center.
BI Incorporated implemented the Day Reporting Center in 2006 and still operates it under the direction of Program Director Kimberly Eaton, Ph.D. The public support, recognition and the results of the program continue to this date. The center operates six days a week and clients receive Moral Reconation Therapy®, intense supervision, life skill building classes, group support as well as drug testing. The Franklin County Day Reporting Center is often contacted by other counties within the Commonwealth when they wish to model their new Day Reporting Center after one that has innovative programming and such a high success rate.