Princeton Times

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December 14, 2012

Commissioners mull Relees Center to save on jail bill

PRINCETON — A proposed non-violent offender housing project was back in the eyes of the Mercer County Commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

Previously, Wanda Lee approached the Mercer County Commission about housing non-violent offenders before their sentencing at a proposed facility on Mercer Street. Lee explained that housing the offenders there would save the commission on their monthly jail bill.

Lee presented the commission with a letter from Bill Jessee, director of the Mercer Day Report Center, supporting the facility Tuesday, after the commissioners had asked her about the relationship between the proposed Relees Center and the day report center.

Lee added that she had talked to several “higher-ups,” including the governor’s office and the Chief Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn and had learned the ultimate authority in determining where prisoners go is up to the county commission.

“You all have the ultimate authority to determine where they go,” Lee told the commissioners. “You have to pay for it.”

Still, Commissioner Mike Vinciguerra had concerns about the Relees Center. The Commissioners asked Lee to work with the magistrates and judges to be sure that they would use the facility.

Lee didn’t think that would be an easy task. She told Vinciguerra that the judges were not in a position to write a letter affirming they would use the facility, but she had been told the community would work with her.

As Vinciguerra and Lee seemed to be at an impasse, commissioner J. W. “Jay” Mills offered that Lee return to the judges and find something the judges and magistrates could to do to show their support for the facility. Lee agreed.

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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