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Jefferson County officials look at alternatives to jail

'Day report center' for inmates considered

'Day report center' for inmates considered

March 04, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying the facility could save on bills that cost Jefferson County about $1.4 million annually, county officials are studying the possibility of establishing an alternative to sending inmates to Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Referred to as a "day report center," these facilities offer a chance for nonviolent offenders to serve their sentences through a program that offers GED training, anger management and alcohol- and drug-abuse counseling, Jefferson County Commissioner Dale Manuel said.

Inmates might report to the center daily or on weekends, which would allow them to have jobs during the week and be productive members of society, Manuel said.

Jefferson County officials see two advantages to a day report center - saving on costly Eastern Regional Jail fees, which have been averaging roughly $120,000 a month, and allowing inmates to start on a positive path.

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Jefferson County Commission members were told that inmates who participate in day report centers must pay a fee to be enrolled and that the centers can become self-sustaining.

"You would get a lot of positives," said Manuel, adding that similar efforts have been successful in other areas.

Shawn Cook, a probation officer in Jefferson County, told the commissioners during their regular meeting last week that inmates enrolled in day report centers have shown progress in not returning to criminal activity after completing the program.

Manuel said the most successful day report centers have been multi-county facilities, and Commission President Frances Morgan agreed to contact the Berkeley County Commission to determine if they would be interested in sharing a facility with Jefferson County.

Berkeley County officials said last year that their Eastern Regional Jail bill was approaching $3 million, and they talked about ways to save on jail costs.

A home confinement program has saved Berkeley County about $1.9 million since 2002, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Manuel said Monday it is unclear how much a day report facility might cost, although he said state grants are available.

Commissioner Greg Corliss said he supports a regional approach to a day report center.

In Pennsylvania, Franklin County opened a day reporting center in the spring of 2006, providing immediate relief from its crowded prison.

The county opened a new $30 million prison in 2007. Franklin County Prison Warden John Wetzel said then that the county would have needed to build a much bigger prison if not for the opening of the day reporting center.

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