Work-release program grows

Police still looking for missing inmate

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Trina Stockton works long shifts, but getting a paycheck is better than sitting in jail.

Stockton, 21, has 10 days left on a work-release program through Moffat County Jail. The opportunity to get her former job back at Craig's Taco Bell/KFC restaurant while being an inmate has allowed her to help pay for her jail costs.

"I was very lucky to get my job back," Stockton said. (The manager) gave me a second chance. When I get out, I'll have my job back."

County inmates are charged $40 a day for costs of care; work-release inmates are charged $42 a day. Stockton said her paycheck doesn't cover those costs. By the time her 90-day sentence for domestic violence and harassment charges is complete, she still will owe the jail more than $1,000.

"It will still be nice to get out," Stockton said.

Moffat County Jail has 16 beds for work-release inmates, though the jail seems to have only a couple work-release inmates at a time. But that trend may be shifting. Jail officials reported having four work-release inmates Tuesday.

Inmates can be sentenced to work-release in lieu of jail time, according to a court order. But sometimes a judge will let jail officials determine how to administer work-release sentences.

Police have a warrant out for a work-release inmate who didn't report back to jail Thursday night.

Paul Mendoza, 39, reportedly was seeking employment when he failed to report.

Mendoza was given two days -- Sept. 7 and Thursday -- to find a job or he would have to serve his full six-month sentence behind bars, jail officials said. Mendoza is not considered dangerous.

Moffat County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ken Uecker said this is the first time that a work-release inmate has failed to report back to the jail.

"Usually, it just takes a couple days for people to find employment," he said. "We've never had a problem before this."

Uecker said jail officials periodically call employers to make sure inmates are at their places of employment.

He said judges might be trying to stabilize jail costs by sentencing more inmates to work-release. Work-release inmates pay for jail costs directly from their paychecks, and other inmates usually are required to pay those costs as a part of their sentences. However, the jail rarely is fully reimbursed for costs of care by non-work-release inmates, jail officials said.

Taco Bell/KFC manager Don Cameron said he's hired a couple of work-release inmates during the past few years without incident.

Cameron said jail officials have asked for those employees' schedules and have checked to see that inmates are showing up for work. He said Stockton has been a good employee.

"She'd rather work than do nothing in jail," Cameron said. "I think she likes the food better here than in jail."

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