A longstanding program that provides counseling, education, job placement and other services for Islanders who have been incarcerated, is slated for elimination due to state budget cutbacks.

The Dukes County sheriff’s office received word this week that the community corrections program will shut down on August 31.

The annual budget for the program, which is housed in a building near the airport, is $294,821.

Newly-elected county sheriff Robert Ogden was sharply critical of state legislators for cutting the funding.

“Seriously,” Sheriff Ogden said, speaking to the Gazette by phone this week. “You’re going to eliminate a service, an entire center, for a little over a quarter-million dollars? We can’t compete with a Suffolk or a Middlesex or a Worcester or any of these larger counties. Does that mean the Island communities, taxpayers of the commonwealth that live on Martha’s Vineyard don’t deserve the same services?” He continued:

“They’re all talking about reduction in opioid addiction, rehabilitation and providing services. So then they turn around and cut the money for the office of community corrections, and the office of community corrections cuts the money for Martha’s Vineyard. That doesn’t make much sense to me. It diverted people from the house of corrections. It reduced recidivism, and it provided avenues for people who were on the wrong side of the law to right the ship and be supported by the community. We were following the model that supports putting people back in the community, back to work, and back into their family and home life.”

In addition to counseling and education, the program provides electronic monitoring and drug and alcohol testing services, often mandated by the court.

Special sheriff Jim Neville, who oversees the community corrections center, said some of the necessary court-ordered functions that the center now handles could be shifted to the probation department at the Edgartown district court, but it is unclear how the functions will get sorted out once funding is eliminated.

“I don’t know what it would look like,” Mr. Neville said. “I’m kind of in a holding pattern.”

A spokesman for state Sen. Julian Cyr said his office is seeking justification for the loss of funding.

“We are troubled to learn that the state is not renewing its contract,” said Leslie Sandberg, district director for the senate district which includes Martha’s Vineyard. “We call on the office of probation to give the residents of Martha’s Vineyard and Sheriff Ogden a good reason for the nonrenewal.”

This year, the state legislature budgeted $20.9 million to operate all the community corrections centers according to Vincent Lorenti, executive director of the state office of community corrections. That is a reduction of more than $200,000 from last year’s $21.1 million appropriation, of which about $13 million was allotted to 18 local community corrections programs. Mr. Lorenti said the department’s operating deficit was closer to $825,000, because of contractual salary expenses and other fixed obligations. He said the relatively small number of people placed on probation in the Edgartown district court contributed to his decision to eliminate funding for the Vineyard program.

“Given that we have such a large deficit, we had to make an assessment of what programs are being utilized at the most effective way,” Mr. Lorenti said. “The Dukes County community corrections center has had relatively low utilization versus all of the other sites in the state for some time now. That’s a function of the smaller number of people that are on probation. The amount of investment per person ends up being extremely expensive versus the other sites.”

He said currently fewer than 50 people are on probation on the Island. About seven people per week participate in community corrections center services. Mr. Lorenti said the state will continue to provide about $50,000 to operate the program for offenders who are ordered to perform community service as part of their sentence.