Tetrault said all potential work release candidates would be screened to determine suitability for placement. People convicted of violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, robbery and rape will not be considered.
“There are criminals that do criminal acts, and then there are some good people that commit a criminal act,” he said. “We always have to make that distinction. At our work release facility we want to be careful to screen them and determine what type of risk they are, whether they’re criminally minded or if they just committed a criminal act.
“A work release center is generally for people who are considered lower risk,” he added. “It allows them to keep their job and still take care of their families. The real issue we have is being able to monitor the largest number of people with the smallest amount of staff to be cost effective.”
Along with a floor plan, DLZ also will determine how many additional staff members would be needed to run the facility. There is no projected number of new positions. Tetrault said the current corrections staff could utilize office space, but there would still be a need for workers to supervise the facility on second and third shifts.
Howard Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murray has long been a proponent of a work release program. As a member of the work release subcommittee, she believes it would give judges another option when sentencing low-risk criminals.
“The options right now are either prison for the worst offenders, or put them on probation or in-home detention,” she said. “Work release is a more constructive, confining option that allows offenders to be employed and pay for housing, while still supporting their family and children. It also doesn’t give them the freedom of in-home detention. It would also help ease out some of the overcrowding in our jails, which has been a problem for the last several years.”