The Bradley County Workhouse Committee will decide this month whether to recommend the alternative sentencing program be run by the county or be privately owned.
Assistant District Attorney Stephen Hatchett said the committee needs to decide who will run the facility before any recommendation is made to the Bradley County Commission.
Misdemeanor Probation Director Rich Kienlen and Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth said they are not in favor of the facility being privately run.
“I’m at least for it being set up so that monies made from this facility go to the county, not to individual people who own the place,” Ruth said. “I am not for privatizing.”
He said he would prefer to have the facility be under the supervision of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
A vote was not made on the subject because the committee wanted all members present. Two members were absent Thursday. Kienlen said he wants to see a recommendation to the Commission made before election season begins. A meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 24, at 2:30 p.m.
The committee met Thursday to hear a presentation from Michael Brady Inc., making it the third company to offer a plan to house work release inmates.
Michael Brady of MBI presented architectural drawing of a potential facility.
Hatchett asked Brady if he saw any potential issues with the proposed building site near the county jail.
“This whole open, drive-around thing kind of bothers me. I wish it was a little more secure than that,” Brady said of the jail’s current configuration in relation to the proposed site.
He said the site seems well suited for building upon, and would not require a lot of prep work.
The need for additional parking for the facility was also discussed.
If a work release facility is approved by the County Commission, the building project would have to be bid out. The committee does not have the authority to choose a builder simply based on presentations. Brady suggested the county finance the project through low-interest bonds. Fees charged to those in the program are being seen as one way to pay for the facility.
One concern in the work release facility discussions has been whether there would be enough nonviolent offenders employed when arrested to make the program successful. Kienlen said misdemeanor probation recently collected data on those in the program who had a job. Almost 50 percent of those on misdemeanor probation have a job.
Another option to reducing overcrowding at the jail was discussed for those who cannot make bond before their trial. Kienlen presented information on “pre-trial supervision.” The program would have electronic monitoring or other devices to keep track of the person. The person awaiting trial would also pay a fee per day.
”I think this would be a good idea for some of the cases awaiting adjudication,” Kienlen said.
Such a program would have to be supported by the judges. Ruth said he had tried unsuccessfully in the past to get the judges to move to such a system. If implemented, the program would not replace bail bonds and would only be used in specific cases.
Also during the meeting, the committee made Kienlen a co-chair of the committee. Commissioner Brian Smith will continue to serve as chairman.