Jim Alderden, sheriff of Larimer County, Colo., is a law-and-order law enforcer who faces the dilemma of a swelling jail population in an era of budget cuts. “I’ve spent over 30 years locking up bad guys, and now I’m setting some of those free,” he told the Denver Post. But he agrees with other county officials that there is no other choice. This after 18 Sheriff’s Office employees – many of whom worked in the jail – were laid off as the county pared $1.8 million from the sheriff’s budget.
Pending a judge’s approval, the county will jail only suspects who have committed the most serious of felonies, including murder and assault, or those who pose a threat to the community and witnesses. Those who have been arrested for lesser crimes – drug distribution, burglaries and even DUIs – will be booked and released, usually on a personal-recognizance, cash or surety bond. A judge also will set conditions for release, including pretrial supervision, officials said. Voters have turned down recent attempts to expand the jail, and a proposal to slap a jail-impact fee on new homeowners in the county was scrapped. “We’re left with really moving people around like chess pieces,” Alderden said.