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Cole County's pre-trial services evaluation show some savings

Cole County's pre-trial services evaluation show some savings

April 17th, 2018 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

This May 2016 photo shows the Cole County Sheriff's Office and Jail in Jefferson City.

Photo by Kris Wilson /News Tribune.

When pre-trial services began in Cole County in 2013, officials hoped it would reduce costs and the number of prisoners housed in the Cole County Jail.

Figures discussed Monday during a meeting of the committee evaluating Cole County's pre-trial services show there have been some savings.

Pre-trial Coordinator Richard Lee noted while the daily per diem paid for holding a prisoner is $70.78, the cost to keep a person on the pre-trial program is $4.88 a day.

"That's a savings that should help all levels of the justice system," Lee said.

The committee will submit a report to the Cole County Commission and county judges by August on what the program has accomplished and what can be done to make it better. Committee members are from law enforcement, local government, the probation and parole office, drug treatment programs, the prosecutor's office, and the public defender's office.

Cole County Presiding Judge Pat Joyce in summer 2013 presented the idea to establish a pre-trial release screening and supervision program. The judges in the circuit, along with the Cole County Sheriff's Department, told county commissioners the program would provide better information to the courts to make bond decisions and would create accountability for defendants released prior to trial proceedings.

As of 2016, the latest figures available, it cost Cole County more than $3.8 million that year to house prisoners. The 2017 daily average was 149 prisoners. Usually 16 prisoners came into the jail daily, and 16 went out each day. The average stay in the jail in 2017 was 32 days.

By comparison, in 2017, the total cost for the pre-trial program was $153,034, with a weekly average of 54 people in the program.

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Take away the pre-trial program and add those to the weekly average jail population, and the figure would jump to 185.

A number of jurisdictions in Missouri found people could be released pre-trial with some form of supervision without significant negative consequences, leading to substantial direct and indirect cost savings, Joyce said.

The Cole County program, which began in September 2013, calls for each defendant charged with a felony who remains in jail and is unable to make bond for more than three days to be screened through a pre-trial release coordinator. Lee is the coordinator for Cole County.

Lee collects information and gives it to the judges to show whether a defendant would qualify for pre-trial release. With assistance of court marshals, supervision services were implemented such as call-ins, drug testing, monitor violations, and verification of residency and employment.

Since 2013, Lee said, more than 200 people have been through the program in Cole County. The county's latest figures show a 71 percent success rate through the program's first three years. He said the majority completed their probation and parole sentences, and just a few ended up in prison.

The group plans to meet again next month.