Alternative to jail may go countywide

YERINGTON - A Dayton request for an alternative sentencing program could go countywide.

County officials took no action on a request to establish the program in Dayton, opting instead to look into establishing a similar program countywide.

Turned down during this year's budget session, Dayton Justice of the Peace Ed Johnson last week asked Lyon County commissioners to reconsider the hiring of two officers to supervise defendants who have been convicted of misdemeanor crimes and placed on suspended sentences.

"We try to use alternative sentencing to alleviate crowded jail conditions and also to give people a chance to turn around their lives instead of just sitting in jail. Unfortunately, in the past we have not had anyone to do the supervising of these people and they have been left on the honor system," Johnson said. "A lot of times there is not too much honor among thieves and so sometimes these people are committing other crimes while not being supervised."

Johnson said the program would be funded through a fee on the defendants. While sympathetic to the problem, commissioners said they could not support the program without further study.

Commissioner David Fulstone said he would like to have a committee formed to look into potential costs and establish a fee schedule.

"I could not support or authorize this program today in view of our turning the request down during the budget process. We need to set up a committee to determine what the needs are. At the very minimum, we would need the program to pay for itself," he said. "This might be a good program to institute throughout the county. It is a good alternative sentencing option."

The board directed the county manager to include the four county justices of the peace and representatives from similar programs in neighboring counties on the committee.

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