We have been looking for ways to let people serve their misdemeanor sentences and still keep their jobs. Perhaps the best and cheapest way would be to let them serve their sentences four hours each evening after work, until their time is served.
For example a person who is sentenced to 30 days would have to show up everyday until 720 hours were served. A gymnasium or other building could be rented for these hours.
We would not have to provide medical care, serve meals or post a lot of correctional officers. Perhaps the lawbreakers would be required to pay $5 or more a day as part of their sentences and the ability to keep their jobs.
When a person has had to come to a place for 180 straight days to serve four hours I believe he would learn his lesson well. If enough participated it might pay its way. And by doing it this way there would be no large capital outlay or huge start up costs.
If there were not enough participants the program could be scrapped without losing taxpayer money. A program such as this could be easily modified if needed at any time in the future.
Another effort at money savings is to bring the probation or parole violator before the judge for a hearing more quickly. Why? Because the county is not reimbursed by the state for the weeks or months a probationer or parolee sets in jail awaiting a hearing. The county is only paid after they are found guilty of their violations and sentenced to serve out their sentences.
Why does it take so long for these people to have their hearings?
Partly, because of the large court dockets and partly, because the criminal judge putting someone on probation or parole has to be the judge holding the hearing on the violation. The other criminal judge has to hold the hearing on whomever he/she has put on probation or parole.
At times our jail will have as many as 40 to 50 being held for these violation hearings. During these weeks or months before the hearing the county taxpayers are paying the housing bills.
I mentioned last week that we benefit from the methods and technologies that are being developed by the much larger law-enforcement agencies around the country. As these larger, well funded agencies make new and innovative discoveries that information is shared with agencies like ours. This is done thru schools, seminars and professional groups such as the National Sheriff’s Association, the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police to mention a few.
At times there may be an investigation of an individual by two or more agencies in which they share information with each other.
Many years ago the Los Angeles Police Department came up with the DARE Program to keep kids off drugs. This program spread like wildfire across the country and placed law-enforcement officers in schools. Teachers and their administrators liked it. Parents liked it because of the additional safety of having an officer on campus.
Years after the implementation of this program a number of studies were made about its effectiveness. The results shocked some. It was decided that the program has been ineffective in keeping kids off drugs and in some places the study showed that kids were learning how to use drugs. This copyrighted program was also very expensive.
We at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office have replaced DARE with our own program which is more effective and much less expensive. So far teachers and administrators are happy with the program.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is one of a very few that has a School Resource Officer in every school and that pays totally for them out of the sheriff’s office budget. They are there to teach and to protect our school children.
The larger agencies are very much into anti-terrorism and have developed methods to prevent terrorism and other crimes of violence. The federal law-enforcement agencies are a great resource when it comes to sharing technology and information.
We interact with a number of these agencies on a regular basis as we do with the Cleveland Police Department, the Charleston Police Department and other local and state agencies.
Of course all of these interactions and learning experiences make for a better sheriff’s office.
As always thanks for reading.