Lycoming County might soon have one more tool to keep its prison from overflowing: a day reporting center.
A day reporting center could supervise offenders who might otherwise be place in the county prison before and after conviction.
Two new officers were hired in January for the Adult Probation Office with the intent of providing supervision at more offenders' homes and expanding remote monitoring services for nonviolent offenders before and after they are sentenced.
"We're willing to take a greater risk because we have more officers on more intensive monitoring," said District Attorney Eric Linhardt. "It can be a step up and step down program. Nonviolent offenders at county can earn early release."
"Traditionally you post your bail and we see you when you're in court," said Judge Nancy Butts. "If you don't have a job, and don't pay support, you're found in contempt and go to jail. These aren't violent people, they just aren't paying the bill we want to keep people more productively engaged."
Adult probation has placed 408 offenders on global positioning system monitoring since 2008, and the county has had intensive supervised bail and intensive supervised release programs for many years, all functions that might be run out of a day reporting center.
Some who otherwise might await disposition in the county jail because they cannot afford bail are eligible for supervised release.
"They're those who are low-risk with regard to flight and public safety," Linhardt said. "It's another tool the adult probation office can use for probation and parole offenders short of sending them back to prison."
Adult probation has 50 remote alcohol monitoring devices that tell officers when people who aren't supposed to be drinking are drinking. Adding a drug patch to the office's number of tools would be helpful, Linhardt said.
Besides probation functions, education and counseling could take place at such a center.
"Supervision should not just be a product of time," Butts said. "We want people to do things to make this a healthier place, to change your state to someplace better."
Dr. Kimberly Eaton, who has directed the day reporting center in Franklin County the past five years, said the "core focus" of her program is getting people to treat their "criminal thinking errors" through therapy.
Her center also offers life skills and job skills classes along with GED preparation and testing.
John Hogan directs the Luzerne County day reporting center. He and Eaton both work for Geo Group, a private company that offers electronic monitoring services along with program administration.
"We're licensed under the Department of Health to provide outpatient substance abuse treatment," Hogan said.
"We want to beef up what we already have and can make available to adult probation," Butts said. "Where we don't have any other options on probation is where day reporting would be really good, where you can amend the conditions of supervisions to get people engaged."