Work release moves to jail

Sheriff's Department to take over CAPS' work release program

Soon those who participate in a work-release incarceration program in Moffat County, and possibly several other counties, will be the guests of the Moffat County Sheriff's Department. At the end of this month, any new work release "clients" in this vicinity will be housed in the Moffat County Courthouse. When the Public Safety Center opens, for July 18, there will be 16 beds reserved specifically for work release inmates.

The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners passed a motion Monday to sign a contract for Correctional Alternative Placement Systems (CAPS) to continue taking the county's work release inmates until March 31.

Beginning April 1, the Sheriff's Department will handle these cases for the area.

It will only handle new work release cases sentenced after the March 31 termination date. Any existing cases will still belong to CAPS, Moffat County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dean Herndon said. The local CAPS facility handles cases for the entire 14th Judicial District, and Herndon doesn't see the move as being too detrimental to its business. CAPS officials declined to comment until later this week.

The commissioners said the move is strongly supported by the Sheriff's Department, who will benefit in both cost savings and profits. It also clears the way for Moffat County to fully utilize the Public Safety Center when it opens this summer. Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson said the decision immediately saves the county $17,000 dollars this year in work-release program expenses.

That's just the beginning as far as numbers are concerned.

"This move will save $50,000 a year," said Lt. Dean Herndon of the Moffat County Sheriff's Department. In addition, by handling work-release cases, in which the clients are charged a per diem to participate, the county will earn approximately $239,000 year. The county arrived at that number by multiplying the 16 available beds by the $41 they are considering charging each client per day.

Projecting that all sixteen beds will always be in use "is a distinct possibility," Herndon said.

The per diem charge had not be finalized. It could be anywhere from $41 to $53, which would make the projected yearly income even higher.

The Sheriff's Department might also handle cases from Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

According to Herndon, Moffat County quit doing work release cases in the early 80s because there was not enough room to effectively operate the program. Now that the program is being reinstated, the Sheriff's Department will have to adjust.

"It takes more help to run work release," Herndon said. "You have to verify what the client is doing, check on the jobs, check the client's locations, track the client."

The department will need to re-train employees for the new procedures and others to properly and safely run the program.

"There will be zero tolerance in the work release program and any sort of schedule infraction would be unacceptable," said Herndon.

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