Fayette board looking to cut transportation costs for prisoners

| Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Fayette County Prison Board is looking into options to help save with costs of transporting prisoners to Greene County.

Warden Brian Miller on Wednesday reported it costs the county $77,000 to transport and house 59 prisoners in the Greene County Prison for October.

Fayette County Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said some members of the board recently travelled to the Cambria County Adult Day Reporting Center where clients go through three levels of treatment and supervision at their own pace based on their own behavioral improvements.

“We were quite impressed,” Zapotosky said, adding the county would benefit if it decided to venture down a similar path. “It's a new approach to alternative sentencing.”

Fayette County Commissioner Al Ambrosini said there will be “significant savings” to the county with the program. He said the program has been discussed with Fayette County President Judge Gerald Solomon. He said a good number of inmates would qualify if such a program was established in the county.

“It's something we need to continue to explore,” Zapotosky said. “Writing $77,000 checks to Greene County is something we don't enjoy doing.”

In other business, the Rev. Terry Sanders, prison chaplain, asked the board if there was anything that could be done to alleviate the amount of liability insurance he has to cover as the prison's chaplain.

For the past few years, Sanders has paid out of pocket for liability insurance payments and has asked the board to either work on their policy or increase his pay.

Because Sanders is a 1099 employee, which is considered an independent contractor, he is not on the county's insurance policy.

Zapotosky said the county will look into putting Sanders on as a rider to the county's insurance.

Sanders told the board, in his time as chaplain, he has increased programs for rehabilitation and job training and even runs a Christmas program where children of inmates receives presents.

“Even if this (request) doesn't happen, I'm not going to stop what I'm doing,” Sanders said.

In other business:

• The board met Jack Loughry, the prison's new business manager who has 35 years experience in the state prison system with more than 20 years as a business manager. Miller said Loughry has been with the prison since Oct. 15.

• Miller reported that the population is 218 males and 27 females. An additional five inmates were expected to arrive by the end of the day Wednesday.

• A part-time corrections officer was terminated from her job and the board voted to approve the recommendation of Diane Butler as a part-time corrections officer to begin work on Nov. 5.

• Ambrosini announced that the first prison working group meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Fayette County Commissioner's office meeting room. He added that the meeting will not be an advertised public meeting, but those interested in attending are welcome.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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