Sheila Hudson, executive director of Allen County Community Corrections for 24 years, is retiring to focus on using her hobby of gardening as a form of therapy, the county said Friday.
Hudson started with community corrections in 1985 as one of four employees and became executive director four years later. Community Corrections now has 95 employees and a $6 million budget, according to a news release.
The department has 12 divisions, including Re-Entry court, outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, and GED testing. It also runs a day reporting and treatment facility and the Kelley House, a therapeutic community for dual-diagnosed male felons.
Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck called her department the most effective community corrections agency in the state.
She was a full partner in creation of the Re-Entry Court. She will be missed, the judge said.
Circuit Court Judge Tom Felts said Hudson has long been recognized as the leading community corrections director in the state and said the Restoration Mental Health Court and Kelley House stand as legacies to her vision and leadership.
Hudson has also been on the Indiana Sentencing Policy Study Committee since 2003 and is a founder of the Criminal Justice Partnership of Indiana, which addresses statewide criminal justice reform, and other groups.
Hudson, who is an advanced master gardener, has applied to the Chicago Botanic Gardens Horticultural Therapy Certificate of Merit program. Horticultural therapy uses plants and gardens to help clients reduce stress and stay engaged in therapy. Horticultural therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation and vocational facilities and other settings.