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MAHONING JAIL Inmate arrest brings reform



Published: Wed, May 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The warden is resurrecting a work-release monitoring program.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The "honor system" for Mahoning County Jail inmates on work release is coming to an end.

Alki Santamas, jail administrator, said a monitoring program that involves Community Corrections Association should be in place by the end of the week.

CCA is a halfway facility on Market Street that also contracts with the county to provide a range of jail inmate services.

Santamas said Tuesday that he has sought the input of judges in the four county courts and municipal courts in Youngstown, Campbell and Struthers. Those judges, when sentencing, sometimes allow inmates to work their regular shift then return to jail.

The jail has eight inmates who work, Santamas said.

'Honor system'

Until now, inmates have been on the "honor system." If they returned to the jail when due, no one checked to see if they had actually gone to work.

Sheriff Randall A. Wellington has said that deputies only record when inmates leave for court-authorized work and when they return. Deputies do check to make sure the inmates arrive back in good shape -- that is, not drunk.

The flaw in the honor system was exposed earlier this month when charges of domestic violence, child endangering and violation of a protection order were filed in Youngstown Municipal Court against jail inmate Terrance V. Rudolph.

The 29-year-old Mineral Springs Road man is accused of going to his ex-girlfriend's apartment and beating her up instead of going to work.

Police did not have to hunt for Rudolph on the new charges -- he returned to the jail as required. Municipal Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly then revoked his work privileges.

Monitoring resumes

Santamas said he's resurrecting the work-release monitoring program that was removed years ago from the county's contract with CCA. At the time, Phil Chance was sheriff.

Richard J. Billak, chief executive officer at CCA, said his staff used to call the inmates' employers twice daily and visit once a week to ensure compliance with the judges' orders. CCA is willing to help out now then ask that the inmate service be included in its next contract, he said.

Once someone is sentenced and granted work release, CCA would require a week or so to do a criminal background check and verify that the employment is legitimate, he said.

If CCA recommends to a judge that an inmate be placed on electronically monitored house arrest and go to work from home, the defendant, not the county, would pay the daily electronic fee, Billak said.

Anyone who violates the work-release program from house arrest faces their original full sentence, he said.

Santamas said the judges could choose to order work release from jail or from house arrest. Either plan would be monitored by CCA staff, the warden said.




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