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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inmate Public Work Programs…Yes or No?

Judge Hatcher forms special committee to review programs and make recommendations to the court

By Sid Riley

The future of the Inmate Public Works Program and the Pre-Trial Release Program which local county and municipal departments have utilized for many years is hanging in the balance. If these programs are allowed to continue, it will certainly not be on the same procedures and controls which previously existed.

Judge Woody Hatcher has advised he has established a Committee to study the possibility of re-implementing the Public Works Program he terminated last October. This Committee will also review Judge Hatcher’s Pre-Trial Release Program and make recommendations to continue the program in its present form, make modifications or to terminate it. Judge Hatcher has asked the Committee to consider the following in reaching its conclusion and recommendations regarding the Public Works Program:

1. Determine whether the Public Works Program can operate at little or no risk to public safety.

2. If the savings in taxpayers dollars is worth the risk to public safety?

3. Who needs to be in charge of the program?

4. Who would be I charge of prioritizing which county Department would get the Inmate Worker?

5. What would be the consequences to the Inmate who may violate the public works rules?

And any other topics the committee believes is necessary in completing its study.

As to the County Court’s Pretrial Release, Judge Hatcher has asked the Committee to review the criteria the court is presently utilizing in making decisions as to Pretrial Release. Some of the criteria the court has asked the committee to analyze are:

1. Whether the court’s pretrial release decisions are based on factors that provide fair and equal consideration to all defendants.

2. Do the factors utilized by the court provide for pretrial release that provides the best protection to victims and the other members of the county?

3. Are there other factors, conditions, or criteria that court could utilize in reaching its pretrial release decisions?

Judge Hatcher said there is no time limit as to when the Committee needs to complete its study. He also stated the recommendations the Committee makes will have significant influence on his decision to restart the Public Works, Continue Pretrial Release, and how these programs will operate.

Members of this Special Committee:

Mr. Jim Hart

Jim Dean, Marianna City Manager

Mr. Chuck Lockey, Jackson County Commissioner

Reverend Jack Hollis

Mr. Claude Reese

Mr. Herman Laramore, Public Defender

Mr. Shad Redmon, Assistant State Attorney

Mr. Stacey Goodson, Probation Officer

Mr. Wayne Lipford, Chief, Jackson County Corrections Facility

Mr. Ted Lakey, County Administrator

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