Mercer County Day Report Center
PRINCETON, W.Va. – The Mercer County Day Report Center has won a three-year contract to provide in-take, drug screening and counseling services for federal probationers in Mercer, Monroe and McDowell counties.
"I'm really proud they were able to get this," said Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Derek C. Swope.
"It's just another opportunity to use alternative corrections. It's a way for the federal and state governments to cooperate with local authorities, serve the public and save money and time," Judge Swope said. "Rather than duplicate or triplicate our efforts, this is an example of being smart."
Beginning this week, federal probation officers are sending former prisoners who have completed their terms of incarceration to the center for two-hour assessments. The center will make recommendations on treatment to federal probation officers, who serve as case managers.
The day report center will provide individual, group and family counseling; academic and job training; domestic violence and parenting education. It also will perform random drug tests on probationers.
"This is basically after-care," said Steve Collins, Mercer County's executive director of community corrections.
The day report center – located in a building completely remodeled by offenders sentenced to community corrections – opened in 2003 to provide an alternative sentencing option for people convicted of non-violent state crimes. It has long provided the same services to state offenders as it will now provide to federal offenders.
"We look at it as a continuum of care," Collins said.
Although federal probationers will not perform community service work, the center oversees community service work for state offenders. State convicts assigned to the center in the past have worked on renovating and building playgrounds, cleaning illegal dump sites, remodeling municipal buildings and helping the elderly.
"The growth of the Mercer County community corrections project – due to the ingenuity and imagination of Judge Swope, Steve Collins and others – never ceases to amaze me. Clearly the Mercer County Day Report Center is one of the most successful in the state," said Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury. Canterbury is considered one of the three founders of community corrections in West Virginia, along with Brooke County Circuit Judge Martin J. Gaughan and Jim Lee, chief probation officer for the 1st Circuit.
The number of federal probationers that the Mercer County Day Report Center will serve will vary. Initially it will have 23 clients in Mercer County and 15 in McDowell County. It is not clear yet how many clients will be in Monroe County. The center will be paid according to what services it provides; there is no set overall contract amount.