A Fayette County commissioner has been appointed chairman of a state committee focused on studying county-level courts and prison issues.
Commissioner Vincent Vicites said he joined the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s (CCAP) Courts and Corrections Committee four years ago to be better educated about the courts and prison system.
“The fact that we have the oldest prison in Pennsylvania, I wanted to learn as much as I could and see what other counties were doing across the state,” Vicites said.
Fayette County is now in the process of replacing its prison, which will be located at the site of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Route 21 in Uniontown.
During his time as a member of the committee, Vicites said he learned a lot about prisons, security options for magisterial district judge offices, funding issues, the need for an increased focus on mental illness in prisons and lack of bed space at state hospitals. He said he has been vocal on the committee and engaged in dialogue on various issues.
Vicites said he found out he was chosen to lead the committee in late October by the then CCAP President-Elect Jeff Snyder of Clinton County.
“I welcome the leadership role in this state organization,” Vicites said. “I welcome the challenge, and I enjoy leading the effort in this area. It’s an honor and privilege to be selected.”
As chairman, Vicites said his duties include presiding over the committee in prioritizing issues of concern to bring the most important of them to the CCAP board as a legislative priority for the upcoming year.
In a meeting held earlier this week, Vicites said the top issue was ensuring counties across the state having sufficient funding for adult probation departments.
Vicites said he brought up the need to establish, through legislation, a court-ordered fee for defendants that would go toward funding security for magisterial district courts rather than having it funded by the taxpayers.
Vicites said the term for a committee chairperson lasts at least one year as it’s the decision of the incoming CCAP president to retain or replace the committee chairperson. Each committee meets during every CCAP conference about three times a year.
“I’m honored to be asked to serve on this committee, and I’m willing to provide leadership to make it as good as it can be,” Vicites said.