Extra jail space leads to home for community corrections
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS- A few entrepreneurial public servants figured out a way to save the county money, improve its community corrections program and create jobs, all in one fell swoop.
“Basically we’re going to be able to keep funds in our community and create jobs in our community,” said Guy Meyer, director of community corrections for Garfield County.
Meyer noticed the work release section of the county jail typically had spare beds, and thought of using the extra space to house a residential community corrections program for Garfield County.
Community corrections programs take people who have just been sentenced for a crime, but have been diverted to such a program rather than going to prison. The programs also take prison inmates nearing the end of their sentence, to help them transition back into the community.
Garfield County already offers a non-resident community corrections program, in which people getting therapy, counseling and classes through the program live in a private home.
Until now, participants sentenced to a more intensive residential program have had to go to counties where such a program is available.
“For a good community corrections program, you have to have a facility,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
Vallario explaind that since the object of community corrections is to help inmates reintegrate into society, it doesn’t make sense to help them reintegrate into another county if Garfield County is where they live.
“The whole focus is, you have them in a residential setting, and you try to get their lives stabilized,” he said.
The staff also prescribes certain treatments, primarily counseling and classes, to help the client reach their goals, said Meyer.
Community corrections also helps participants find jobs in the community. Most of them work in construction or service industries, said Meyer. One goal of the program is have each participant leave with $2,000 to $2,500 in the bank, he said.
People sentenced to community corrections don’t have a history of violent crime, said Meyer. But many have had substance abuse problems, he said.
As part of the new deal, the community corrections program will supervise the county jail’s work release program. It allows inmates to work in the community while living at the jail.
Another advantage to the community corrections program is that it keeps Garfield County funds in Garfield County, said Meyer, rather than paying to send inmates to other countys’ community corrections programs.
“Financially, it serves both of us,” said Vallario of the jail and the community corrections program.
The new program also creates jobs.
So far, five new security staff have been hired, said Meyer. He expects to hire two more case managers as well.
The new community corrections facility is expected to open Sept. 1.
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535
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