Construction work is expected to start soon on a couple of holding cells inside the old historic wing of the Blair County Prison now used as a work release area.
Part of the Mulberry Street side of the lock up will be transformed into a central booking office where the 31-hundred people arrested in Blair County each year will be taken as soon as they are picked up by police. Using the central booking office and video arraignments will make this part of the criminal justice system more efficient according to supporters. Blair County Officials say they have funds on hand to build the space needed for the central booking office. And they have come up with a way to make the people arrested cover the cost of operating the center along the additional guards needed. Every person arrested in the county will be charged a $175 dollar booking fee. If they are found not guilty, the defendant will not have to pay that fee but all others, even those that receive minimal fines, will have to cover that booking fee. County officials estimate they will be able to bring in enough revenue to cover the cost of the new central booking office.
The Prison's Warden says another advantage of the central booking office is that finger printing and the processing of arrest paper work will become more uniform.
That will allow authorities to have an easier time checking with the national crime information center and gathering past arrest records on anyone charged with a crime in Blair County. County leaders hope to the central booking office in operation within a couple of months.