For prisoners on the go, program turns to Garfield jail’s ‘Go-to-Guy"
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – When politicians talk about saving money for the taxpayers, the transport of jail inmates isn’t normally the first cost-saving measure on their list. But maybe it should be. A program called Transport Across Colorado, which is a sort of carpool for prisoners, has saved the state millions of dollars since its inception 10 years ago.Garfield County Jail transportation coordinator Jeff Hoffmeister recently won the “Go-To Guy” award for what the program’s founder described as his important role in the program. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Al Vorhies, who founded the program in 1995, said it’s basically a system where sheriff’s deputies from across the state contact one another whenever a prisoner needs transport.
As an example, Vorhies said if there is a prisoner in the Garfield County Jail who has a warrant in Jefferson County and there’s a person in Jefferson County who has a warrant in Pitkin County, the three sheriff’s departments can work out a deal where a deputy from Garfield will drive down to Jefferson, drop off a prisoner, then pick up the person wanted by Pitkin County. A Pitkin County deputy can then pick up that prisoner at Garfield County, saving both Jefferson County and Pitkin County from making a costly 300-plus-mile drive. Vorhies said Hoffmeister has been instrumental in setting up much of the ride-sharing on the Western Slope. “He’s my go-to guy in Garfield County,” Vorhies said. “Anything we need on the Western Slope, he’ll help set it up.”In 2003, Vorhies said the program saved the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department – and ultimately the state – 17,942 miles of driving. In the past 10 years, Vorhies said the total money saved by using the program in Jefferson County alone was $2.5 million – not to mention the environmental benefits of keeping prisoner transport vehicles off the road.
“Jeff, like us down here, is very willing to work with everybody,” Vorhies said. Hoffmeister’s award consisted of a plaque that was awarded to him during a recent meeting of TAC members in Glenwood Springs. Hoffmeister said, at its core, the program is simply a tax-saver for the state’s citizens. “We all help each other out,” he said. “We try to schedule trips so we save money.”The longest trip Hoffmeister could remember that used the program was when he needed to transport a prisoner from Massachusetts. As it turned out, Eagle County also needed to extradite another person from the same area. Eagle County sprung for the airplane tickets and Garfield County sent its deputies and paid for two hotel rooms.
A Web site was recently set up for the program where those with the proper security codes can enter the system and coordinate rides on the information superhighway. “We got tired of driving past each other waving at each other when we both were empty,” Hoffmeister said. Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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