Sheriff tightens jail policy

Wall: Former time-shaving practices out of compliance

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— Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall has tightened policies allowing prisoners at Routt County Jail to get time shaved off their sentences for good behavior.

The new policies will result in more days served for many prisoners. The county unknowingly had been out of compliance with state statutes regulating good time for years, Wall said Wednesday.

"Routt County was the most liberal with good time of any county in the state, it seems," he said.

According to state statute, prisoners are allowed to have two days a month deducted from their sentence in return for good behavior. Trusty prisoners, who work inside or outside the jail, can be given an additional 10 days per month off their sentence.

Wall said for as long as anyone currently employed by the Routt County Sheriff's Office can remember, prisoners at the Routt County Jail have been given all 12 days regardless of their status - trusty or not.

"We speculate it started at the old jail at the old courthouse, where we only had 12 beds," Wall said. "I inherited it and didn't really think about what we were doing, and no one questioned it."

Earlier this month, when Wall learned the Routt County Jail's "good time policy" was not in compliance with state statute, the policy was adjusted immediately. The changes went into effect April 11.

"I felt like I didn't have any choice - to continue it would have been a violation of state statute. To grandfather people in, that would've been a violation of state statute," Wall said.

The sudden change in the policy has drawn the ire of some prisoners. Wall said he has received angry calls from some local defense attorneys.

"There were people here, and there still are people here, who were under the expectation that they would automatically get their 12 days," Wall said. "For some people, it became a very frustrating situation because they were expecting something we're now not able to give them.

"This is not, from my perspective, a punishment - it's just compliance," he said.

A prisoner serving a six-month sentence could have expected to serve as little as four and a half months under the old good time policy, not accounting for time served prior to sentencing. Under the new policy, prisoners not on trusty status would have less than two weeks shaved off the same sentence.

The Moffat County Jail has long been in compliance with the state statutes regarding the good behavior, Moffat County Jail administrator Lt. Dean Herndon said. Everyone sentenced to 30 days or more is entitled to two days off a month for good behavior, and trusty prisoners sentenced to 60 days or more can get the additional 10 days.

While many current and future prisoners will serve more days as a result of the change, the Routt County Jail is not in immediate danger of overcrowding. The jail has been averaging between 30 and 45 prisoners on a given night, Wall said.

Officially, the Routt County Jail has 52 beds, though it has been able to accommodate additional inmates when necessary by bringing in additional mattresses, Wall said. During the 2006 gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a counterculture festival that brought more than 15,000 people to North Routt County in June and July of that year, the jail housed close to 70 prisoners, Wall said. Plans are being drawn up to change sleeping arrangements at the Routt County Jail to bring its permanent capacity up to about 75 inmates, he said.

The jail typically has four or five trusty prisoners at any time who work in the jail's kitchen or laundry facility. The jail also is working on developing a formula to grant partial-trusty status to prisoners who spend some of their time doing highway cleanup or washing county vehicles, Wall said.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

katrinkakelly 6 years, 8 months ago

Please note the comment: "grandfather people in"

Uh huh.............

The sherriff's dept did not even know what to do with my freind who wanted to have a nationwide DOC fugitive in town picked up! The deputy told him to go to the courthouse! Thank you Steamboat Springs Police Dept for having the brains to pick up Jacob!

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justathought 6 years, 8 months ago

They need to do away with "good time" period and make criminals serve their full sentences. They broke the law, if the were "good" they wouldn't be there in the first place. Quit mollycoddling these law breakers and we might actually go back to the old "crime doesn't pay" attitude and maybe some of them will choose not to return. SO "the policy has drawn the ire of some prisoners", who gives a big ratz azz, you did the crime now do the time, ALL OF IT. As for upsetting lawyers, awe gee.... Did your plea bargain include telling the judge all this illegal good time was factored in to the sentence they would accept? A defense lawyer should know the law so accept the fact that you've kept your mouth shut about the discrepancy between policy and law on behalf of your criminal clients and mark one up for the good guys for a change!

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Watcher 6 years, 8 months ago

Editor, the word is trustee NOT trusty. I understand it when the blogers can't spell and don't use correct grammer but please proof read the paper!

Why doesn't someone ask about the Undersheriff's latest wreck?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 8 months ago

Watcher-

trusty Audio Help /Ë trÊsti/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[truhs-tee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, trustier, trustiest, noun, plural trusties. adjective 1. able to be trusted or relied on; trustworthy; reliable.
2. Archaic. trustful.

noun 3. a person or thing that is trusted.
4. a well-behaved and trustworthy convict to whom special privileges are granted.

and

trustee Audio Help /trÊË sti/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[truh-stee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb -eed, -eeing. Law. noun 1. a person, usually one of a body of persons, appointed to administer the affairs of a company, institution, etc.
2. a person who holds the title to property for the benefit of another.
3. (in New England) a garnishee.
4. a trusty.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 8 months ago

justathought, I wish a hard-line approach to confinement was that simple. Sometimes, I agree! However, in a correctional system that is seeking cutbacks on funding and budgets that are shrinking, not to mention the prison personnel's safety, judges have to take bargains on time because of bed space. The system already has a waiting list! Probation offices are tied into sanctioning the probation client with more community service times, counseling. Even revocations of probation do not guarantee jail time anymore! Holding prisoners costs cash and that is hard for most to accept in taxe hikes!

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 8 months ago

Wow! I can see this dilemma! It's understandable that a defense attorney would be upset. There were a lot of plea agreements made to serve time, rather than to fight cases to stay out of jail because of that old policy! Now, the new change will renege on those bargaining chips that defendants made with the DA's office and short the inmate! I think these are some good questions to ask:

1) Will the sheriff's office honor the old policy for current inmates and only enforce the new policy to new inmates?

2) Will the defense attorneys and their clients have to return to court for an appeal on a plea that was based solely on that old policy?

3) Could there be a lawsuit against the county for non-compliance?

4) Could the inmates file a lawsuit personally or as a class?

 This is going to be another interesting saga in county politics. Some may say who cares? So, the inmates serve a little more time. There criminals! Big deal! If I were an inmate, I would be mad as hell, to know that I bargained with the DA for the promise of a reduced jail term on that policy. The defense lawyers must be livid, due to the fact that they talked their clients into doing the time because of that policy, as a compromise in a plea agreement! At a time when the jail is cramped for bed space and county budget for running the jail is tight, I'm sure the extra days that the sheriff's office has to retain these inmates will be an increased burden to the county budget. I wonder where the commissioners will scratch up that cash.  I suppose they will have to resort to the "rob Peter to pay Paul" budgeting to cover the shortfall, as usual!  The SO has had budget issues since sheriff Tim Walsh held office and that's as far back as I know in Steamboat. This will be interesting to see how this pans out!  Have a good day!
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tmac62 6 years, 8 months ago

will wall get good time will he have to work in the kitchen

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bloggyblog 6 years, 8 months ago

blog likes the sound of the partial trusty program. there was a sheriff down in apche junction az. who used to put the trustys to work doing all kinds of community service. the inmates got some fresh air and exercise and the community benefited too! great idea.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 8 months ago

bloggy, Was that the same sheriff that housed his inmates in tents in the desert? I heard of this man. They pitched military tents in the middle of the desert and surrounded the camp with 12' laser wire fences. The inmates would work early mornings and late evenings and bunk down in the day when it was 110 degrees. It is still an inmate camp today, as far as I know! If that were Routt county, they would have to live on igloos or yurts! LOL!

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id04sp 6 years, 8 months ago

People have been getting off easy around here for years by saying, "Okay, I'm sorry and stuff," and getting a lighter sentence for taking a plea bargain.

In the first place, plea bargains are ONLY for the benefit of the state judicial system. They do NOTHING for us locally. They don't save US a dime. They don't keep dangerous people off the street. We spent $18,000,000 of county money on a building to benefit the STATE EMPLOYEES who work there, so how about having some trials and doing their jobs. Maybe few trials and hefty sentences with accompanying publicity would actually be a deterret to bad activity, huh?

There has never been a complaint that our jail is overcrowded. Also, anyone who can be let go early on "good time" can also be allowed to wait until a space is available, or take home confinement instead. And, everyone should be aware, that the inmates PAY FOR their room and board in the jail.

It would be different if we had lots of violent felons, but we don't. The non-violent offenders can wait, or be diverted into home custody.

This is a non-issue except to people who would accept an apology and send them home from court with a promise to be good. Give me a break . . . .

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Benny 6 years, 8 months ago

I have first hand knowledge that a defendant was sentenced to jail time by the judge and Gary took it upon himself to allow that defendant to do community service in lieu of serving time. The pilot should check that out because I don't think a county sheriff can modify a sentence imposed by a JUDGE. I wonder what kind of special conditions he will allow for himself if he is sentenced to jail time in his case (if he's found guilty of course). I also heard that Gary has a policy that prohibits "contact visits" between inmates and family members, children, etc. However, there was one inmate that he let have contact visits with his girlfriend and his dog because he was a "trusty". I guess that Gary does what Gary wants, state statute/policy or not. When it comes to this paper and the public's opion, Gary makes sure that it looks as if he is doing the "right" thing by enforcing policy according to the law,. I have a feeling that outside of public view, these policies and state statutes are meaningless.

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Watcher 6 years, 8 months ago

kielbasa

  1. Inmate Worker (trustee). The classification of inmates who are given work assignments based upon a determination that they present a low security risk.

I did a check and found it is used both ways. Trusty & trustee. I do think that trustee is used most often.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 8 months ago

Watcher- Yeah, I always thought that "trusty" was used out of context, too. I looked it up one day. I thought "trusty" was somebody's slang for "trustworthy."

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justathought 6 years, 8 months ago

Benny, if you have first hand knowlege of Wall overriding a judge, you need to bring it out in the open. They always say "9 news wants to know".

Watcher, what's the scoop on Busto's accident and why is it being kept quiet?

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Watcher 6 years, 8 months ago

Sorry guys, all I know is that there was one. I was hoping the Pilot & T would investigate and let us all know what was up with the accident. I understand that it is hush hush.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 8 months ago

And the sheriffs office saga continues..................! LOL! ;-p

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bloggyblog 6 years, 8 months ago

blog thinks maybe we should start putting the trustee's (note correct spelling) to work sandbagging.

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