The CCA director said deputies should be assigned to the jail, not to a recycling program.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
SEBRING -- A 2-1 vote by Mahoning County commissioners puts three of his staff members out of work and doesn't fix the staffing problems at the county jail, said Richard Billak, Community Corrections Association director.
Commissioners Anthony Traficanti and David Ludt voted Tuesday to give a recycling contract to the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department that the privately owned Community Corrections Association has had for 12 years.
Traficanti and Ludt voted to give the sheriff's department the contract without comment at Tuesday's meeting. Commissioner John McNally IV cast the dissenting vote.
Contacted at his home after the commissioners meeting Tuesday in Smith Township, Billak said that without the recycling contract, three staffers who worked directly with inmates in the recycling program no longer have jobs. He said he will meet today with staff to discuss how to reassign inmates who would have been on the three recycling work crews.
Billak said the sheriff's department will assign six deputies to the recycling program who should instead be assigned to the Mahoning County Justice Center.
"Then they could open 48 cells at the minimum security jail, and Youngstown Municipal Court judges would have jail space," Billak said.
Billak said with the $200,000 the sheriff's department already gets from the general fund for its inmate work program, the $73,000 for the recycling contract, the $8,000 for an additional truck for the program and other costs, the sheriff's department will operate the same program for $300,000 and six staff that CCA operated for 12 years with three staff members at half the cost, he said.
Billak said his agency uses mostly people assigned to CCA residential programs for the recycling work crews, but the sheriff's department will be using day-reporting inmates.
Inmates told to report to work from their homes often aren't reliable, he said. They often don't show up when ordered.
He said public safety is also a concern, because the inmates the sheriff's department will use also are not as thoroughly drug screened or put through the clinical psychological tests CCA residents are. The inmates will be working in public places, including picking up recyclables from schools and libraries.
"We've had this program for 12 years and never had a problem with any of our residents, Billak said.
He said his agency will be monitoring the performance of sheriff's department inmates assigned to the new recycling duties.
"We'll take pictures of overflowing [recycling] bins, and we'll show them to commissioners and ask 'Why did you give this contract to the sheriff's department?'"
McNally said he voted against the contract going to the sheriff's department because he didn't see a need to change. He said though the contract is for $73,000, the sheriff also wants to hire a liaison between the sheriff's department and the county's recycling personnel with wages and benefits would likely be an additional $40,000.
McNally also said he is against the sheriff's department inmates doing the recycling work because day-reporting inmates should do harder work, like patching potholes and shoveling snow, to work off their time.