Panel recommends Susan Hancock's reinstatement

Being cleared of criminal charges is one thing—returning to a career in criminal justice—is another.

On May 29th, a jury found Susan Hancock not guilty on a charge of receiving stolen property.

Today, Hancock began her fight to return to work at the Executive Director of Community Corrections in St. Joseph County.

Hancock was suspended from the position about a year ago, after the criminal charge was filed.

The employment matter today landed in the laps of some criminal justice professionals—perhaps putting their faith in the criminal justice system to the test.

“Miss Hancock was doing a good job before this whole incident occurred that ended in her leave,” said Judge Roland Chamblee, Jr. of the St. Joseph Superior Court, “It was resolved in her favor and I welcome her back.”

Chamblee was one of three judges sitting on the St. Joseph Community Corrections Advisory Board today as it voted to recommend that Hancock be reinstated.

Judge Michael Scopelitis also voted in favor of Hancock’s reinstatement, while St. Joseph Circuit Court Judge Michael Gotsch voted no. After the meeting, both Scopelitis and Gotsch declined to discuss the reasoning behind their votes.

The recommendation to let Hancock return to her job came on a vote of 11 to 6. Also voting against the recommendation was Riley High School Principal Ed Bradford, and South Bend Mayoral Assistant Lynn Coleman.

Today’s show of support for Hancock was only a recommendation—the St. Joseph County Commissioners have the final say.

News Center 16 today asked St. Joseph County Commissioner Andrew Kostielney if he had his mind made up. Kostielney said, “I do not, I’ve known about three different times how I was going to vote, and then it kind of keeps vacillating from one side to the other, so right now I honestly do not know.”

Commissioner Dave Thomas said he too, was undecided on the matter. “My biggest goal is to take care of the public safety and welfare and health of the citizens of this community, so what actually serves that goal? Also I don’t want to see anybody’s rights trampled on.”

While Susan Hancock was acquitted at trial, her husband Michael was convicted of selling stolen musical instruments on the internet.

The commissioners will apparently have two decisions to make. Hancock was suspended as Director of Community Corrections and Program Manager at Ducomb Center.

It’s not yet known when the commissioners will vote on the matter.

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