Future of pretrial services uncertain
ALAMOSA — Alamosa County has been using Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems (RMOMS) as a contractor for pretrial services, such as screenings and supervision programs, for over a year yet officials still aren't sure if it's worth the cost.
Five months have passed since the county first brought up the idea of discontinuing their contract, and data collected since then doesn't strongly make the case in either direction.
"When we started the pretrial program the hope was that we would be able to see a decrease in our jail population," said Alamosa County Attorney Jason Kelly during a work session Wednesday afternoon. "I don't know necessarily that we've seen that based on our average population. It fluctuates quite a bit."
According to figures compiled by Kelly, March of 2017 was the most crowded month in the jail. There were 183 bookings that month, with an average total daily jail population of 159.23—129.55 of whom were housed in the detention center. That month the county paid $8,657 to RMOMS while housing out $27,945 worth of inmates.
Meanwhile November had the lowest monthly bookings, 129, leading to an average daily total of 132.44 inmates. Yet the county paid $30,710 in housing inmates elsewhere and $5,120 to RMOMS.
The least paid in outside housing in 2017 was for $19,980 in February when the average daily number of inmates housed out was 30.68 and the most paid was $39,460.23 in August when average housed out was 42.68.
May had the largest RMOMS bill at $9,213, due to 181 bookings that kept the average total daily population at 145.42. December had the least amount of inmates housed outside of the jail with a daily average of 24.03 and that month had the smallest RMOMS bill at $4,553. Yet the county still paid $27,990 to house those inmates elsewhere while an average of 108.52 stayed in the county jail each day.
The decrease in the RMOMS bill is attributed to fact that since October the county no longer pays for urinalysis and passes that bill on to the inmates. Additionally, at the start of 2017 RMOMS had roughly 60 clients while the first of March had 39. The reason for the dip is unknown to Julie Zaragoza, regional manager of RMOMS.
"I can't tell you if it's beneficial," Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said. "My numbers are holding pretty steady in the 140-150, which tells me 'no,' but there's an increase in drug use and all that stuff. You really can't tell. We're just unable to capture all of that data."
One portion of RMOMS services is administering the Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) questionnaire, which a judge uses to determine program eligibility based on previous arrests and other criteria. According to 12th Judicial District Chief Judge Pattie Swift, that is beneficial.
"They won't have the same kind of info," Swift said. "They're not going to be comfortable letting them out without any kind of supervision."
"It's the people on the fence that we're probably going to lose," added Kelly. The sheriff could try to screen when they're booked, but it would be difficult without adequate resources.
"They're all high, some of them are combative, and most are not cooperative," said Jackson. "At that point it's really difficult to get accurate information from them."
Since inmates pay for probation and urinalysis, it was suggested by Alamosa County Chief Financial Officer Brittney DeHerrera that inmates could be billed for RMOMS. However, getting them to pay the bill could be problematic.
"Sometimes people are completely compliant with probation but they haven't paid all of their fees so we end up waiving their probation supervision fees," said Swift. "Or we send it to collections and they attempt to collect it...I don't know whether what you get would be worth the time and trouble of trying to collect it."
"We're getting towards having pretty tough choices for the county," responded DeHerrera. "I'm just looking for different options... The sheriff's budget overspent in 2017 by almost $400,000. We did dip into reserves for $200,000 of it. That's why we're having this discussion."
"Out of 50 clients, maybe a handful actually pay," added Zaragoza. "But I wouldn't be opposed to what you're suggesting."
Because the discussion was a work session there was no formal action made by the board.
"There's no way to really see if it's working or not," Alamosa County Commissioner Darius Allen. "It's a crapshoot."