County mulls transportation for alternative sentencing

County mulls transportation for alternative sentencing

June 1st, 2011 by Dan Whisenhunt in Local - Breaking News

The Hamilton County Security and Corrections Committee, three General Sessions Court judges and a former City judge met this morning to discuss whether the county should provide transportation for people in alternative sentencing programs.

Former city Judge Walter Williams, who works as an attorney, said people charged with crimes who go through alternative sentencing sometimes have problems getting to the facility, which was moved to Red Bank from Chattanooga on May 3. Commissioners discussed cooperating with CARTA in Chattanooga to run a special line to the facility for people in alternative sentencing.

"(Moving) community corrections [to] an area where there's no transportation, what you're saying is you want these defendants to fail," Williams said. "You're telling the defendants, 'We're ordering you to do these things but we know you're not gonna be able to get out there.'"

Barbara Payne, director of Hamilton County Corrections, said the building was formerly housed on North Holly Street in Chattanooga, but Payne said the building was condemned.

Payne said transportation has not been a problem for people using the sentencing, but commissioners agreed to study the issue for 90 days. They also agreed at its May 26 finance committee meeting to table a resolution to buy more than $30,000 worth of furniture for the building.

Sessions Judge Clarence Shattuck, Bob Moon and David Bales were also present at the meeting. They said some defendants have problems getting to the facility but other defendants are making excuses not to participate in the program.

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.