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Prison alternatives

| Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

My fellow commissioners should consider my less-costly plan to address our jail issues rather than their $32 million construction on our Fayette County Fairgrounds.

To free up existing jail space, we could purchase one or two buildings downtown to relocate the female inmates permanently and the jail administrative staff, along with inmate programs and storage.

We could build on our existing site or adjacent land another annex or pods like neighboring counties, and we should consider purchasing the former city jail, demolishing it and using the land. We should make repairs and renovations to the existing jail.

As the Department of Corrections confirmed, many jails across Pennsylvania are not fully ADA compliant and still operate. In addition, we should embrace the DOC's and National Institute of Corrections' recommendations to implement an Inmate Jail Cleaning Program and a Building Maintenance Plan for the existing jail.

We should implement a work-release program and an alternate housing program like our neighboring counties.

We should allow the three treatment courts to work, considering the courts recently hired a person to coordinate the programs.

And we should allow our new Day Reporting Center to take effect, given it opened less than 45 days ago and has 26 active inmates with 10 inmates waiting processing.

Angela Zimmerlink


The writer is a Fayette County commissioner.

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