County to hire misdemeanor probation officer

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By JOHN BLODGETT

The Western News

The Lincoln County Commission on June 6 authorized a new full-time probation officer position that will report to the Lincoln County Justice of the Peace and focus on misdemeanor probation and the pretrial monitoring of defendants.

Officials hope the role will help increase public safety and reduce overcrowding in the county jail. They say it will also fulfill a requirement of the drug court the county has been looking to establish, and improve the county’s chances of getting grants to help fund it.

In discussing the position with the commissioners on April 11, Justice of the Peace Jay Sheffield explained two important tasks the probation officer would perform.

One is to monitor defendants who have been released from custody, either on their own recognizance or after posting bail, to make sure they comply with court-ordered terms and conditions of release in advance of sentencing.

The other task, Sheffield said, is to monitor the defendants for compliance with the terms and conditions of their sentence.

Sheffield told the commissioners that, absent the probation officer, the only monitoring has been when court clerks notice that defendants have gone without paying fines or restitution or haven’t participated in court-ordered programs.

Addressing these issues when they occur, not after, is the best way to make sure a defendant meets terms and conditions, Sheffield said.

At the June 6 meeting, Commissioner Jerry Bennett acknowledged it will likely take a few years for the county to determine the extent of the savings and improvements the position promises.

The starting wage range is $13.56 to $15.65, to increase to $14.08 to $16.18 after six months.

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