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KSJD Local Newscast - July 2, 2024

The Pretrial Services program offered by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office has ended as of July 1. District Court Chief Judge Todd Plewe discussed the change with the county commissioners Monday during a wide-ranging update on the 22nd Judicial District. Pretrial Services is a program designed to help low-risk defendants stay out of jail while they await trial. Such programs are offered by some other counties in Colorado. Cuts to the sheriff’s budget prompted the change. Pretrial Services included sobriety monitoring for defendants facing DUI or drug charges. Plewe said the courts will now be referring people to a local entity for drug or alcohol testing, but that he worries the jail population may increase. Sheriff Steve Nowlin told KSJD he had two and sometimes three deputies monitoring pretrial clients, but since his budget has been cut by 10 full-time-equivalent positions, he needs the deputies elsewhere. Nowlin said the detention division, which includes the jail, court security, and transports, is short-staffed. He said, “I’m losing people right and left. When you don’t have all the staff you need, it creates more stress and you’ll have more people leave.” Nowlin said he is hopeful that sobriety monitoring through the local recovery center will work and that the jail population won’t rise.

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.