Our View: Justice isn’t always just
There’s no denying there are flaws in our justice system. Even those who administer it agree that there’s room for improvement and change.
But, those who are sworn to uphold the law must lobby for change, not unilaterally decide against participating.
That’s just what the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department did when it refused certain inmates. There was no discussion with the Colorado Department of Corrections or the Community Corr–ections Board of Directors beforehand. If there had been, perhaps jail officials would have an accurate picture of their financial loss before making the decision to refuse some inmates and before taking it to the public.
And perhaps they would not have been publicly embarrassed by others who showed a greater knowledge about the jail’s financial position than those who work there.
Moffat County Jail officials say it cost $133,060.52 in 2005 to house inmates who are under the Depart–ment of Corrections or CAPS, Craig’s community corrections facility.
One problem with that figure is that it’s wrong. Not only did the jail miscalculate the number of days that several inmates were in the jail, officials did not bill for inmate time that is reimbursable by the state.
Officials admit there’s a problem with the flow of paperwork and in categorizing new inmates properly.
How can an agency claim to have a problem when the facts it’s using to define that problem are inaccurate?
And the solution to that problem can’t come in the form of a demand.
There are clearly problems with the system; the Moffat County Jail bears the cost of housing inmates who are sentenced from other counties or are the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
What is needed is a thorough and accurate analysis of the costs of housing inmates and what is fair reimbursement to the county for that service.
Solutions should be sought, not by pointing fingers or barring doors, but by open discussions with those who have the ability to make changes.
Some of those steps already have been taken, but the process is slowed by animosity created by the jail’s decision to reject some inmates without discussion.
We hope those involved can move beyond blame and find a compromise that respects the law and respects the public, which pays the price no matter where inmates are housed.
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