Corrections authority to meet

Published 4:43 pm Monday, April 10, 2006

The authority charged with overseeing a corrections program aimed at putting nonviolent prisoners to work in the community will hold its first public meeting Monday.
The Escambia County Community Punishment and Corrections Authority, originally functioning as an entity sponsored by the Escambia County Commission, now operates on its own, said authority President Jerry Caylor.
The county commission created the board overseeing the program two years ago, but the paperwork to establish the authority on its own was submitted to the secretary of state's office and will be finalized this week.
The authority provides a community-based alternative to incarceration that reduces the cost of punishment while maintaining the integrity of the criminal justice system.
The program works from the state level down and from the local level up, Caylor said.
For example, when someone is convicted of a felony DUI, they have two choices from the judge -probation or prison. The county commission can step in between probation and prison and place that person in the authority's program.
The authority also has the option to pick candidates from prison who have not committed a violent crime to participate in the program.
The Department of Corrections pays the authority and the county to supervise the individual.
So why place them back into the community?
The &#8220beauty part” - and the part often misunderstood by the general public, Caylor said, is that prisoners are coming out into the community anyway.
The authority will meet for the first time after Monday's 9 a.m. county commission meeting, to be held on the second floor in the Escambia County Courthouse. Caylor said several personnel items will be discussed.
Caylor said the authority will elect officers, including a chairman, vice chairman and secretary and treasurer. He said the authority will also appoint a screening committee.
The screening committee will be an entity that Caylor himself can go to with candidates for the community corrections program.
Since Monday will be the first time the authority will have to meet, Caylor said he was not exactly sure who would be appointed to the screening committee.
But he's hoping it will be someone from the judge's staff, the district attorney's office or the sheriff's office.
The authority will also choose a location for the office.
Caylor's office is located in the courthouse, and the office manager and probation officer are located in the juvenile probation office.
Being scattered around makes it difficult to function, Caylor said.
The authority will also establish personnel classifications and compensation, as well as procedures and times to meet.
The public is encouraged to attend.

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