Program for young offenders may be cut |

Program for young offenders may be cut

Susan Cunningham

Programs designed to keep young offenders out of jail could lose two-thirds of the $90 million in funding statewide, which could mean big cuts for Routt County’s program.

Such cuts “would essentially devastate the program,” said Bob White Routt County’s director of human services. “Here in Routt County, we don’t know how that would affect our share.”

The Community Evaluation Team in Routt County has received about $30,000 a year from the state to ensure juvenile offenders are treated at the least restrictive, but appropriate, level of care. That means that whenever possible, youths are remanded outside of a correctional facility.

Moffat and Grand counties, which also are in the 14th Judicial District, receive about $30,000 a year each, White said.

If the program reductions recommended by the Joint Budget Committee are passed, the 14th Judicial District might receive only $10,000 for each of the three counties, White said.

A local group is lobbying against the cuts, White said.

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The Community Evaluation Team involves school representatives, human services employees, attorneys, and representatives from the city of Steamboat Springs, the school districts and the county. The team, after talking with the juvenile and parents, then makes a recommendation to the judge responsible for sentencing, said Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger.

Based on the severity of the offense, punishment could include monitoring, community service or time at a correctional facility. The team can come up with a collaborative solution with more insight than a judge who just hears the case.

If the cuts are made, the county might have to consider discontinuing the program, Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

“It could be pretty significant,” Stahoviak said. “It could determine if communities can continue to have such programs.”

Routt County commissioners will discuss the issue with representatives from the Community Evaluation Team at 1:30 p.m. today.