Prisoners too pricey

Jail to turn away out-of-town parolees

Moffat County Jail no longer will accept parole violators from other counties, the jail administrator said Tuesday.

At issue is the cost to the Moffat County Jail to house parole violators from other counties.

When the Colorado Depart-ment of Corrections allows inmates to parole in Moffat County and they violate parole, the jail must house the inmates.

It costs the county about $75 a day to house an inmate, jail administrator Dean Herndon said. But the state only reimburses $47. And reimbursement by the Department of Corrections isn't swift, Herndon said.

The state doesn't begin to pay the county to house an inmate until after that inmate is convicted. The state doesn't reimburse the county for the time the inmate spends in jail before a conviction, Herndon said.

It can take as long as six months for a conviction, and even longer if the case goes to a jury trial, Herndon said.

"The state should pay, it's their problem," Herndon said.

In some cases, it can cost the county even more if the inmate needs medical treatment, Herndon said.

In November alone, parole violators from other counties cost Moffat County $10,000, Herndon said.

Infractions that can land the parolees in the jail include violations such as associating with known drug users, Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said.

Herndon discussed the issue with Moffat County commissioners at Tuesday's regular commissioners meeting.

Commissioners said Her-ndon was making the right decision by no longer accepting parole violators.

Inmates who already are in Moffat County Jail won't be released because of the new policy, Herndon said. But when parole officers arrive with new violators, the jail won't accept them, he said.

Where the inmates go is up to the parole officers, Herndon said. They could go to other areas, including jails in Rio Blanco or Routt counties.

But Herndon said he plans to encourage other jail administrators to follow his lead and turn away parole violators that are from outside their counties.

If enough jail administrators make an issue of the costs to house parole violators from the Department of Corrections, someone on the state level might change the state's policy, Herndon said.

By turning away parole violators, Herndon is causing tension between law enforcement agencies, something he said he would rather not do.

But with costs from the inmates mounting, Herndon said he doesn't have a choice.

Herndon also told the commissioners on Tuesday that clients from Community Al--ternative Placement Services, who are from other areas and violate parole in Moffat County, also are placing a burden on the jail.

Commissioners said they would schedule a workshop to address the CAPS issue.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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