PARIS – Jail officials from Oxford and Franklin counties are looking at ways that low-risk inmates can serve their time outside the facilities’ walls – under strict supervision and an air-tight contract.

The two counties want to combine their resources and hire a case manager who will oversee inmates on pretrial release and home monitoring, Oxford County Jail Administrator Capt. Ernest Martin said.

Other counties, such as Washington and Knox, have had positive results, Martin said.

There are two tiers of the program.

The first is inmates awaiting trial.

Inmates in this category are typically indigent, unable to make bail. Instead of posting cash, they’d sign an agreement, Martin said.

For them, there are no visits from officials to their homes.

“They just have to keep their nose clean,” Martin said.

Then there are inmates already sentenced. After serving a required one-third of their time, they’ll be held under stricter conditions, including three visits by officials to the inmate’s home each week.

If inmates violate the agreement, they’re back in orange jail suits behind bars. Martin is said he is talking to Sheriff Wayne Gallant about deputizing the case worker, so he or she can make an immediate arrest if there is a violation.

Jail Programs Coordinator Lauretta Sanborn would identify inmates eligible in either case, and refer them to the case worker. After an interview and approval by the district attorney’s office and the judge, they would be allowed out under strict conditions.

Certain inmates never will be eligible, such as the highest-ranking felons and sex offenders.

Inmates out on release must be involved in some type of education, treatment or work. That is the only time they’ll be allowed out of their house.

Martin said typical conditions would be that they can’t drink or use drugs and agree to random searches and tests.

“They have to do a lot of things in order to get out of jail,” he said.

Case managers, Martin said, would not let anyone out who is likely to reoffend.

“They do have a very good track record and low recidivism rate,” Martin said.

Martin said the jail does release people on home monitoring, however, it is on a contracted basis. Under the new case manager, Martin expects to have 20 percent of the inmates on release, which would ease jail overcrowding.

Jail officials plan to use the inmate benefit fund to cover the program’s initial cost. The fund contains the revenue collected from phone service and the commissary, and pays for magazine and newspaper subscriptions, cable TV and mental health counseling.

“It’s not money we’d have to raise through taxation,” Martin said.

If implemented, the jail would be able to save significant funds, Martin said, and might be able to work the program into the regular budget later down the line. When the jail is overcrowded, the county pays about $100 per day per inmate to house them at another jail.

“If we could get 20 percent of the population outside of the jail, that could be the difference between boarding and not boarding,” Martin said.

Another cost saving is for medical care. Inmates can come in with multiple medical problems and piles of medication. This becomes the jail’s responsibility while incarcerated.

The jail uses Allied Resources for Correctional Health, however Martin is looking for another option. Fifty percent of the grievances he gets are for health care, he said.

On Tuesday, Martin held up a bag of medicine – at least 20 bottles – for one inmate. That individual only stayed for two nights and brought his own pills, but it is an example, Martin said.

“One target population would be people who are geriatric, sick, or require medical care,” Martin said.

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