With the county down two judges, Lycoming County Chairwoman Judge Nancy Butts alerted the prison commission that there was “a population of people who are to be released under Rule 600, which is the speedy trial rule under the rules of criminal procedure.”
Under Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure Rule 600, “A person arrested for a crime must be tried within six months from the date of filing the complaint if he is incarcerated and within one year from the date of filing the charge if the person is not not in custody.
Speaking at the monthly board meeting, Butts said there are around four people at present who have been incarcerated for 180 days awaiting trial.
What was needed, she said, is “something where I can get them released and they may not have community contacts.”
“I need resources to supervise them that Supervised/Intensive Supervised Bail cannot provide. For one reason or another, they are not eligible for this program. I need another way. I can’t in good conscience, I can’t just let people out and say, ‘OK, we’ll see you’. I hope you will show up in the future,” Butts said.
She said she discussed it at a recent reentry meeting and spoke to officials at GEO Group Inc. Reentry Services about “Create a daily report type program for me so I can add it as part of the release.”
“So it was on the spur of the moment that I turned to GEO and asked if they would accept a limited number of people in this capacity,” she said, adding that they agreed.
“I don’t want people to be in jail any longer than necessary, and that’s what it would get those people out of jail,” she stated.
“They would have some oversight in the community because sometimes individuals in that circumstance, if they haven’t posted bail, maybe it’s not that they don’t have the resources, it’s perhaps because the seriousness of their charges warranted a higher level of bond and for some reason they have not been able to stand trial for 180 days or a period of time, minus any prosecution,” she says.
“I don’t think any judge wants to let someone out with a higher previous record score or greater contact with the system without any accountability,” Stressed butts.
Although she has not discussed the proposal with the district attorney’s office, Butts said that at no additional cost to the county, individuals could be released on nominal bond, which is essentially an unsupervised bond with conditions attached. . They would report to GEO (Reentry Services) daily and could be required to submit to drug and alcohol assessments.
“That way, if they don’t meet the criteria for intensive or supervised bail, I still have a way to get them out of jail that doesn’t violate the law,” Butts told the board.
Additionally, Butts requested that county commissioners consider changing the name of the facility.
“We would like to propose a name change from the Reintegration Services Center to the Community Resource Center as this would then accurately reflect what they provide in terms of support for people in the community,” Butts said.
Although there are no changes to the contract with GEO, county commissioners are expected to make the decision for any changes. County Commissioner Scott Metzger, who was also at the prison board meeting, said the judges’ request should be discussed.
“There are probably a number of reasons why we can’t get them to trial in time,” County Commissioner Tony Mussare said “but I know the commissioners pushed our state senator to appoint judges. It was several weeks ago. »
Butts said applications for the county judgeship closed earlier this month. Applications are then forwarded to the governor who selects a name. This goes to the state senate for approval after determining if the person is suitable.
The state legislature doesn’t often sit in May, so the earliest a movement could arrive to appoint a new judge could be late June or early July, Butts said.