Commissioners rethink contributing to CAPS | CraigDailyPress.com

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Commissioners rethink contributing to CAPS

It’s going to cost more for people convicted of crimes to pay their debts to society in Moffat County.

Starting May 1, Correctional Alternative Placement Services, or CAPS, will begin charging people who are ordered by the courts to perform useful public service as much as $120.

The fee increase is an effort to reduce the subsidies Moffat County pays CAPS.

CAPS and the Moffat County commissioners agreed to the arrangement during a meeting Wed–nesday.

“We’re trying to look at all kinds of things Moffat County seems to have inherited. We’re questioning why we’re doing them, and that’s why we’re here today,” Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

The county pays CAPS $14,000 annually so that CAPS can run a public-service program. CAPS is a private business. Moffat County budget analyst Tinneal Gerber contacted other counties and found that they don’t subsidize public-services programs.

Court-ordered fees also fund the program. People sentenced to fewer than 24 hours of community service pay $30. People sentenced to more than 24 hours pay $60.

The fees and county money pay the salary of the public service program supervisor, CAPS Director Cindy Talkington said.

State statute allows the court to order public service fees as high as $120.

But even operating with a $60 fee, CAPS often can’t collect its money, Talkington said. In 2004, CAPS opened 167 cases. CAPS had the potential to collect $7,970, but it collected only $5,180.

When CAPS clients fail to pay the fees or perform the service by the court-set deadline, they get arrested on charges of failure to comply. After they have failed to meet the deadline three times, they typically get sent to jail, District Court Judge Michael O’Hara said.

The court can order the person to pay the jail $75 a day for cost of care. But it’s rare for the jail to receive that money, Moffat County Jail Administrator Dean Herndon said.

Herndon didn’t think the fee increase would cause a spike in the jail’s inmate population.

“I don’t think raising the fees will make a huge difference. I don’t think this will be a huge factor in who I end up with,” Herndon said.

It wouldn’t be fair to charge a teenager sentenced to 16 hours of community service $120, Talk-ington said. But people who get sentences of 300 hours probably need to pay more, she said.

The success of the new fee structure will determine what amount the county gives CAPS next year.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdaily—press.com.