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Grand jurors recommend new work program for inmates and phone, television restrictions

Members of a McDuffie County Grand Jury recently returned special recommendations that call for the establishment of a new county inmate work program, as well as telephone restrictions for those incarcerated at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson.

The recommendations made by those serving on the grand jury were made public this week by McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk Connie Cheatham.

"It is the recommendation of this grand jury that a work program be implemented by law enforcement," wrote grand jurors. "It is the feelings of this grand jury that a work program would be beneficial to the citizens of McDuffie County and would offer deterrence to those who violate the laws."

Additionally, grand jurors also believe phone service should be restricted to inmates at the county jail between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. They did not cite a specific reason for that particular recommendation.

"While this grand jury wants all prisoners to be treated in a respectful manner, it is the opinion of this body that certain luxuries, such as cable television and movies be limited to the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. only as a source of entertainment for prisoners in our jail," court records reveal.

On another subject deemed important to address, grand jurors believe the county is in need of a child advocacy program.

"We feel that the children who are abused physically and or sexually have special needs that can only be met through specialized programs that focus on our children as victims and as potential victims," grand jurors wrote. "It is also apparent to this grand jury that law enforcement officers are not trained to the same extent as they are in other criminal investigations."

Contending they understand the difficulty involved, they "strongly" urge that the county provide for "as many officers as possible" in this specialized field.

In addition, grand jurors also recommend that a fee be paid to drop a particular case in instances where the victim wishes no longer to prosecute.

"Make this the responsibility of the sheriff's office to collect the money when charges are dropped," grand jurors wrote.

They noted that the money collected should be paid in "cash only."

Grand jurors also believe an arbitration council should be formed before cases are presented.

Under driving under the influence convictions, grand jurors believe community service workers should spend such time performing community service - not sitting on a bus.

They cited, as an example, a person assigned to 40 hours of community service working only eight hours, while being on a bus up to 32 hours.

On another topic, grand jurors believe parole officers should be responsible for a convicted sex offender and the registration requirements.

"If the offender fails to register, the parole office should notify the appropriate law enforcement officials," grand jurors contend.

Also, grand jurors recommend that the McDuffie County Board of Education initiate certain guidelines involving school bus drivers who return to work from medical leave.

Grand jurors believe that such bus drivers should be examined by a physician appointed specifically by the school board prior to that person returning. They also believe that all medications being taken by those employees be reviewed before bus drivers can resume their duties.

"We, the members of the grand jury, feel that stricter guidelines should be enacted so as to safeguard our children and prevent further accidents," they continued.

Additionally, grand jurors found no problems concerning any sworn receipts and disbursements within various county government offices. Those offices include: Clerk of Court, Probate Court, Board of Commissioners and Sheriff's Office.

Web posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007

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