State wants to open Day Reporting Center in Albany -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State wants to open Day Reporting Center in Albany

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Albany's drug commander says 90% of the people his unit arrests, they've seen before. As soon as many drug offenders get out of jail or prison, they get in trouble again.

The state Department of Corrections is pushing for a new Day Reporting Center for Dougherty County, but they don't have the money to pay for it.

There are currently 13 day reporting centers in Georgia. It's a program that includes substance abuse counseling, basic education and employment enhancement, to try to keep offenders out of trouble in the future. All the state needs for the program, is a home.

Each year, hundreds of people are sentenced to spend anywhere from 30 to 730 days in the Dougherty County jail for probation violations like failing drug tests.

Rather than sending them back to jail, which doesn't offer opportunities for rehabilitation, the state wants to open a Day Reporting Center.   "The day reporting center is an excellent opportunity, especially for drug rehab," said Albany Mayor Willie Adams.

Adams has spoken in favor of banishing repeat drug offenders from Dougherty County. What would be best, he says, is to banish drug activity from their lives.  He said, "It's also to help people get out of that cycle and so it has a lot of good aspects to it."

Gets them out of the cycle by offering them extensive substance abuse counseling and programming, as well as the chance to get their GED, and hopefully a job. Stan Cooper is the Director of Probation Operations for the Department of Corrections.  He said, "A day reporting center targets high risk, high need drug offenders or people with substance abuse offenders."

Giving Dougherty Judges another alternative for sentencing other than jail or prison. The state Department of Corrections may be able to come up with operating money, but they can't pay for a building and that's why they're reaching out to the city and county, looking for a place to call home.

Mayor Adams said, "That's where we all can come together, thinking in terms of intergovernmental agreement. We can kind of help find a building or have that service in our community."  In order to stop the repeating pattern of abuse.

If the city and county can't come up with a building for the state to use, that doesn't mean one won't come to the area. They already have a building available in Lee County, but that would focus on programs for people in the Southwestern judicial circuit, not Dougherty.

The average operating cost for a day reporting center is about $678,000 a year, that's a cost of $16 per day versus closer to $45 dollars a day to house someone in the Dougherty County jail. @@

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