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Judges look for ways to save funds, more prison time

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- More people will be going to prison in Lawrence County after the county's two common pleas judges began looking at a way to save county funds.

Judge Charles "Chuck" Cooper sentenced a man to 11 months in prison Wednesday for violating community control sanctions. Joshua D. Mullens, 26, of Private Drive 1068, Ironton, admitted violating community control sanctions.

Instead of holding Mullens in the overcrowded Lawrence County Jail, Mullens was sentenced to prison. However, once a bed opens at the SEPTA drug abuse treatment center in Nelsonville, Ohio, Mullens could be transferred there, Cooper said.

The sentence gets a prisoner out of the county jail quicker, but judges still have the option of transferring the prisoners to state run community based correctional facilities.

Judge D. Scott Bowling has made similar sentences in several other cases, saving the county the cost of housing prisoners for 35 days at a cost of $48 a day for a savings of $1,680. A change in policy could lead to bigger savings, Cooper said.

"If we do this for a year, it could save" tens of thousands of dollars, Cooper said Wednesday. "This way the state is paying the costs instead of the citizens of Lawrence County paying for it."

In an unrelated case, Randy Stevens, 43, of North Avenue, Portsmouth, admitted violating community control sanctions and was sentenced to two years in prison.

In other cases:

Chrystina L. Judd, 19, of the 1900 block of Foster Avenue, Huntington, pleaded innocent to a felony charge of possession of drugs. Bond was set at $30,000 and a pretrial was set for Jan. 23.

Bond for Michelle Curry, 31, of the 2100 block of S. 6th Street, Ironton, was increased from $10,000 to $25,000 after she failed a drug test. Her defense counsel, Luke Styer of Ironton, said his client was hospitalized earlier this week and that could have impacted the drug screening.