County to fund new community corrections building
A diversion program designed to keep less serious offenders out of prison will have a place of its own in Garfield County. Monday, county commissioners approved funding for design of a building that will house the community corrections program. The commissioners also informally committed approximately $1 million for construction.Community corrections is an alternative to a prison sentence that provides life skill training, employment support and drug and alcohol treatment in a residential setting.”Community corrections is for guys who are convicted of a felony,” said director Guy Meyer. “They don’t necessarily fit the profile of going to prison. They’re mostly drug offenders, nonviolent and nonsexual predators.”The residential program, which began in 2003, has grown from four clients to 32 and is housed in the county jail in Glenwood Springs.The program has an 83 percent success rate, said Steve Reynolds, a member of the community corrections board.”The success rate for people who go through the community corrections program is significantly higher than for those who go through the Department of Corrections (prison),” Reynolds said.Community corrections is also a good deal for the taxpayers. The state Division of Criminal Justice pays most of the per-client cost of $35.39 a day. Cost for a prisoner in the Department of Corrections is $73.46 a day, Reynolds said.Part of the cost of the program is paid by the clients themselves, who must work to pay restitution, court costs and fines, supervision costs, as well as room and board. They pay a daily fee of $17 a day, Meyer said.As the program has grown so, too, has the need for more beds, Reynolds said. Also affecting its current location is the growth of inmate numbers in the county jail and the need for more room to house them.A new building designed to accommodate 60 beds with the ability to expand would fit the bill, Reynolds said. He estimated a construction cost of $116.25 per square foot and a building size of between 7,000 and 10,000 square feet.The building will be constructed on land near the county airport outside Rifle, owned by the county. The community corrections board also looked at the county’s Taughenbaugh building in south Rifle that is currently vacant. However, they rejected the site chiefly because of its proximity to homes.”Nobody wants it right next door,” Reynolds said. “These are the type of offenders … who are not a true danger to the community, but there’s a perception that they’re still inmates.”Of interest to the commissioners is a new set of logistics once the program moves from downtown Glenwood Springs to a relatively remote area of the county.Reynolds said shuttle service would be provided to get clients to and from work or to nearby bus stations.In voting to approve county funding for a conceptual design of the new building, County Commissioner John Martin said, “We’ve got a pretty good program above and beyond the state standard.”
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