Washington County's common pleas judges want to hire their own pre-sentence investigator that could be shared with a court in at least one other jurisdiction, according to discussion during Thursday's county commissioner meeting.
Judges Ed Lane and Susan Boyer asked the commissioners for permission to initiate the process of hiring an investigator that is responsible for providing accurate criminal histories and other information prior to sentencing hearings.
"Obtaining criminal history is the most time-consuming part of the pre-sentencing process," Boyer said. "They say it takes at least eight hours to do a full criminal history, but that can't be done in one work day."
She said there are many phone calls and other correspondence that has to take place in order to develop a final history report.
Pre-sentence investigations for Washington County are currently being performed by the SEPTA Correctional Facility located in Nelsonville.
But there have been problems with those reports, and the judges believe the county should hire its own investigator.
"We had 285 pre-sentencings last year," Lane said. "And without knowing all the facts we can't get to a good sentence."
He said the cost to hire an investigator has not been determined at this time, but noted that Morgan County Judge Dan Favreau has already indicated he would be interested in sharing an investigator with Washington County.
Lane said he had also contacted other counties about that possibility, but so far only Morgan County has responded.
The commissioners asked the judges to put together a budget that would include the projected expenses and revenue source for hiring a pre-sentence investigator.
In other business Thursday, IT director Eric Skomra recommended the commissioners begin working with Smart Networks of Marietta to provide wireless Internet services for the county.
Skomra said he had reviewed three companies to provide the service, and decided to recommend Smart Networks.
The commissioners plan to discuss working with the company and have not yet made a decision.