Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kudos to Lauderdale County Work Release

Community Corrections and Punishment Authority, commonly called Work Release, has made a tremendous impact in Lauderdale County and other areas in which it has been implemented. Recently a Florence police officer called the Lauderdale work release program a joke. Is it?

Not from our point of view. The work release center is located within the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center and is currently headed by Willie Lyons, pictured at left. Lyons previously worked at Riverbend and replaced Elizabeth Berry as the program's director.

No one convicted of murder, kidnapping, arson, rape, trafficking, or first degree assault is eligible for the local work release program begun in 2004. Those who are sentenced to community corrections are closely monitored.

However, as with all such corrections programs, there have been escapes. The most problematic was that of Christopher Wade Hall, who in October 2007 escaped, attacking and seriously injuring a Rhodesville woman with a shovel. In September 2008, Jason Lynn Turbyfill escaped, and most recently, Jamie Edward Hayes walked away from the center on April 9th. Hayes was captured within a few hours, but not before he robbed a local convenience store.

Is there a way to prevent these "escapes?" Considering the nature of the program, in all probability, the answer is no. If that's the case, is the program worth it or is it really a joke?

Beyond a doubt, this program offers those convicted of lesser offences in Lauderdale County a chance at rehabilitation and employment. It also means that such inmates pay their way--something that many state inmates do not.

Many in the area take issue with some of the problems that have surrounded Judge Michael Jones in the past, but his support of the Community Corrections and Punishment Authority should not be one of them. We wish Mr. Lyons the best in his new position and look forward to the positive changes that he will be implementing.

What's up with this: A source informs us that none of the Florence C.I.T.Y. employees is an active participant in the class action suit against the State. Does that mean that they will refuse the salary if offered?