Williams: Board votes to end work release

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The Walker County Community Corrections Board voted Wednesday night to end the work release program in the county.

"It's been shuttered," District Judge Greg Williams, the chairman of the board, said Friday morning, adding there are better ways to serve the community.

"It was a service offered to the court system. The board, after discussion with community corrections individuals, just decided it was in the best interest of community corrections to shutter the program," he said. "It wasn't an overnight decision. It's been talked about for a while."

Williams said it was "fiscally irresponsible to keep it open. It was difficult to pay the bills on it. It was losing money. It is down to less than 10 individuals in it. It was getting used less and less by the court system. It didn't make sense to keep it open."

He said he could not say how much money the program was losing.

Williams said he did not know of any other alternative work release program in the county. He also noted quite a few community correction programs throughout the state do not have a work release program.

Asked how the program lost money, Williams said, "It is very easy. The persons who are in work release are supposed to be paying rent, purchase their food and such. Well, many of them are on hard times. So community corrections was footing the bill, and we just can't afford to do it anymore." 

Community corrections will continue as a program, Williams said, saying it is "an extremely viable program" that continues and will likely get stronger. 

"Community corrections is a solid organization. I'm proud to be a part of the board," he said, adding that the employees "are persons who really care about our community. They are doing everything they can to help, and they are working with individuals who have quite a few problems." 

Williams said community corrections has an interim director, La'Tisha Oliver, and has posted statewide through the Alabama Office of Courts that the local program is accepting resumes for a permanent director.

"We hope to have all resumes by Aug. 16 and our goal is to have an acting director by Oct. 1," he said. 

He noted the Oliver, who recently gained attention by being named the mayor of Parrish when Heather Hall moved, is working toward being a court referral officer and has been with the program for a while.

"The board has faith in her as an interim director. She has put in her resume for director, too," he said.