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Commissioner to Fayette prison panel: 'We're going to make a difference'

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Members of Fayette County's Prison Working Group met for the first time Thursday.

Commissioner Al Ambrosini told the group they will meet monthly for up to 18 months to discuss ways to improve operations at the prison. In addition, they will examine whether a new prison is needed or if the existing facility can be renovated.

“But that's not the goal,” Ambrosini told the group. “The goal is to help people. We're going to make a difference in people's lives.”

Members will look at ways to reduce recidivism, possibly through new programs aimed at helping inmates develop job skills or to address substance abuse and mental health issues, Ambrosini said. In addition, the group will explore ways to make the facility safer for inmates and corrections officers.

He noted commissioners already are looking at opening a day reporting center, which will allow nonviolent offenders to serve part of their sentences in a supervised setting outside of the jail. Participants would call in daily to the center and appear weekly for drug and alcohol testing and counseling.

The group was divided into smaller teams. Each will study a different issue — mental health, and drug and alcohol, financial and architectural.

Attending the meeting were Ambrosini, Warden Brian Miller, Controller Sean Lally, retired state trooper James Killinger, prison chaplain the Rev. Terry Sanders, Children and Youth Services Director Gina D'Auria, Emergency Management Director Guy Napolillo, Deputy Jim Custer, Public Works Director Robert Carson, Information Technology Director Kebin Holbert, Prison Business Manager Jack Loughry, UMW Local 9113 President Michael Hicks and Clinton Anderson, who represented Behavioral Health Administration Director Lisa Ferris.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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