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Parole violators on most wanted Web site list

March 21, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Probation Department this month unveiled a new tool in its attempts to track down probation and parole violators: A "most wanted" list on its Web site.

"In the week we've had it up, we've already had two apprehended," Chief Probation Officer Rich Mertz said last week. One of the alleged violators was brought in on a citizen's tip, but the other was spotted by a probation officer at the county prison's work release annex, he said.

"He came in with his boss to pick up another inmate on work release," said Mertz, whose department also runs the county's inmate work release program.

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On Wednesday, there were 17 photos of people being sought for alleged probation violations, two of them with the word "apprehended" across their pictures. In addition to photos, the page on the Web site lists each person's name, physical description and a number assigned to the individual.

A list of charges on which they were convicted is not on the site because it would take up too much space, according to Mertz.

"Some have one offense, some could have 15," he said. He said the list likely will be expanded and more information could be added in the future, such as the person's last known address.

Anyone wanting to view the most wanted page can go to the department's Web site at www.fcpd.com and click on Most Wanted. Viewers first can read an information page on how to contact the department with tips and warning them not to try and apprehend or confront anyone on the list.

Tips may be called into the department at 717-264-6613 or to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department at 717-261-3877. Tips also may be mailed to: Absconder Information, Franklin County Probation Department, 440 Walker Road, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

To assure the privacy of those calling or sending in information, the department is not accepting e-mail tips, according to the site.

Mertz said the department was supervising 2,123 offenders in February through its adult, intermediate punishment and DUI units, a number that does not vary much from one month to another, but tends to creep up each year.

The department's 22 probation officers made 403 home contacts, another 889 job site visits and had 1,068 office contacts with offenders during the month. Officers administered 453 drug tests, 192 breath tests and found 88 violations resulting in 34 arrests, according to the monthly report.

Monitoring those on probation and parole and supervising alternative sentencing programs such as house arrest and electronic monitoring is important to keeping people in the community and out of the overcrowded prison, he said.

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