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Good behavior can shorten sentences again

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET and CARRIE JOHNSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 24, 2002

INVERNESS -- Citrus County inmates will be granted time off their sentences for good behavior again, at least until the matter is further studied by the county attorney.

Under the new policy, inmates will be granted five days off their sentences each month if they are not charged with misconduct. They can also earn two days off for every 40 hours worked.

The County Commission approved the policy 5-0 on Tuesday without discussion.

This reverses action taken by the commission last May that eliminated time off for good behavior, replacing it with a policy that allowed inmates to shave time off their sentences only by volunteering for work detail. The new policy also limited the maximum number of days off per month from 15 to 10.

The policy was challenged by two inmates who said eliminating time off for good behavior violates their constitutional rights and contradicts Florida law. The inmates, Leon Cooks and Alan Patrick Delaney, filed separate petitions in Circuit Court last month.

County Attorney Robert Battista said there was some question as to whether eliminating time off for good behavior violated state law.

"That would bring us right in line with that state statute and eliminate any confusion," he said.

In other commission action:

In search of dollars to help build or expand parks, commissioners discussed a proposal to raise the onetime impact fee paid by new residences. The proposed parks fee would rise from $153 to $435 for a single-family home, bringing the entire new home impact fee from $2,849 to $3,131.

The proposal returns for a vote May 14.

Commissioners agreed to reduce the Citrus Springs Advisory Council from nine to five members through attrition. Commissioner Vicki Phillips said the group has accomplished many of its goals, and it is becoming harder to find volunteers for all nine spots. The council suggests projects to be funded by the Municipal Service Benefit Unit, a separate taxing district in Citrus Springs.

Acknowledging that the $200-a-day fines will not bring an end to the feud, the commission agreed to refer the code enforcement case against an Ozello beekeeper to the state attorney's office for possible prosecution.

Randall and Deborah Foti have a conditional use permit for a shed for their home business, extracting honey from honeycombs raised off-site. Neighbors Shields and Jackie Gay have complained for more than a year that the Fotis' business has become a noisy nuisance to the neighborhood, in violation of their permit.

The code enforcement board found the Fotis in violation of their permit in February and began fining them in March. It is up to the state attorney's office to decide whether to prosecute the Fotis on a misdemeanor count of violating a county ordinance.

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