Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

January 24, 2012

Ex-con graduates from county re-entry program

In 2006, Derrick Kosch made a spectacular mistake.

But nearly six years later, the 29-year-old, who made national news when he was videotaped accidentally shooting himself during a robbery attempt, is getting a second chance.

With local elected officials, two judges and several fellow offenders watching Monday, Kosch became the second graduate of the county’s Re-Entry Court Program.

Kosch was released last Jan. 10 from the Indiana Department of Correction, after serving three years for the armed robbery of a Kokomo Village Pantry.

Kokomo residents remember him as the man who accidentally fired a handgun into his own groin.

But after having spent the past 11 months keeping his nose clean, Kosch received notice Monday for a much less dubious achievement.

He’ll now serve the remainder of his sentence on unsupervised probation, thanks to a sentence modification order from Howard Superior Court 1 Judge Bill Menges — the same judge who sentenced Kosch back in 2007.

“I hope by coming this far, you can see a new person in me,” Kosch told Menges at a celebration Monday at the Howard County Government Annex.

“You are a different person than the man I sent to prison, and I’m hopeful I’m never going to have to do that again,” Menges returned.

So far, nine offenders from Howard County are enrolled in the re-entry program, where they’ll spend between a year and 18 months being monitored on a regular basis, subjected to frequent drug screens and offered help with life’s problems.

The last piece of that equation is what’s often missing from re-entry programs. Human contact — encouragement, job advice, help with resumes, direction when temptation comes calling — is time intensive.

But Menges believes — and national studies have shown — that intensive one-on-one work can keep offenders from return trips.

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