Note: This story was updated at 6:39 p.m.
The director of an Anderson County program meant to save money and reduce crime and the jail population has resigned.
Mike Baker, director of the county’s alternatives to incarceration program, announced his resignation Thursday in a letter to Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, Anderson County commissioners, and members of an advisory board. His last day will be April 4.
Baker said progress has been made toward reducing recidivism, but the program hasn’t achieved its potential “because of a lack of support from some in the judiciary and the current mayor.
“Without their willingness to support alternatives programming such as I have proposed, I believe we will continue to see increasing jail populations and drug-related crime,” Baker said. “The results will mean the county will need to go through the process of adding more jail space in a few short years.”
In a response, Frank said Baker has a passion for the individual rehabilitation of offenders.
“But he always failed to understand the legal system itself and the rights of the accused,” she said. “His efforts to cure people created liabilities when it came to possible incrimination of the accused. Judges, the district attorney general, and the public defender have laws they must follow in all cases, and Mr. Baker mistakenly took the requirement to follow those laws as a lack of support, and he took personal offense that he could only work with those who have already been convicted.
Baker suggested the county leave money in place for the alternatives to incarceration program, address the county’s drug problem primarily as a disease and secondarily as a crime, and keep pretrial and probation operations separate from the judiciary. Baker also recommended preserving the alternatives to incarceration advisory committee and “encourage buy-in by everyone in the judiciary and criminal justice system and willingness to support putting these alternatives in place.”
Frank said she had no personal issues with Baker, and she wished him well in the future.
More information will be added as it becomes available.