• Published

VOICE-Buffalo, which is pushing to restore a program for conditional release of nonviolent inmates, particularly those with mental illness, will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. today in Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, 4375 Harris Hill Road, Clarence.

The conditional release program to allow nonviolent inmates to leave the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden some weeks or months before their sentence is completed up was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure during the “red/green” budget crisis in Erie County in 2004-05.

Supporters say restoring the conditional release program would save taxpayers money by channeling nonviolent offenders into treatment programs while then making their cells available for housing more dangerous criminals.

The goal is to have a huge turnout tonight to demonstrate to county officials the level of public support for reinstating the program.

“We see the return of this program as a significant action to help nonviolent offenders to get the treatment and training they need to restart their lives,” said VOICE board member Michael Tritto.

“In the process this relieves overcrowding in our prison and saves the taxpayer up to $175 per day per inmate for keeping them imprisoned.”

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