Doug Carrigan from ATC, Advantage Treatment Center in Sterling, Colorado, addressed the Lamar City Council during a March 12th work session and outlined a concept for a 30-40 bed client facility in town. Carrigan is the executive director of the Sterling facility and he told the council he believes the Lamar community would benefit from a similar program. He described the facility as a form of halfway house which would serve clients on parole or probation under strict guidelines. “What I want to do is to get people to understand and educated on the process,” he explained, “We’re not looking to bring new offenders to this area. We’re looking to deal with the ones already here and are looking to come back to the area.”
“It is something that the current criminal justice system doesn’t have. What I want people to understand is that community corrections is dealing with the people that are already from your community or are returning back to your community,” he explained. Carrigan said this concept makes it easier for probation officers to maintain contact with their clients instead of having to travel to Eads, Springfield, Lamar or other towns to make sure they’re maintaining the requirements of their sentencing. He said this concept also makes the community safer.
He added, “Community corrections is a highly regulated environment. Every movement that’s made by a client is planned and done with preparation and their movements are monitored throughout the community. They must take a breathalyzer test two or three times a day, take a urinalysis test repeatedly, go to treatment which fosters accountability and awareness of their victims.” Paying back your victims is also a part of the process in which clients have to start a budget for restitution and to prepare for their eventual release back into the community.
Carrigan told the council as many as 24 jobs could be created with the facility with an average pay scale of $12.47 per hour for a starting wage. The one in Sterling employs 26 people and is supported by the criminal justice system and the local community. “We do a lot of things in the community…charity and food drives. Our clients participate in a lot of community service activities.” He said he’d make himself available for any meetings to ensure potential neighbors understand the concept of the community corrections process and how it works.
Mayor Roger Stagner added that no site has been selected at this time as the idea is just being considered. Councilwoman Beverly Haggard, who is employed by a prison, recounted how much community resistance developed several years ago when a private prison was considered for the Lamar area. Carrigan said this is a different concept; it is not a prison, and is used by parolees and those on probation who would be returning to their community. He explained that each client is given an assessment by the staff and at some point; they will be approved to seek work and get a job, the same as if they were already living and working in town and were on probation. “They don’t make a move without it being pre-planned or pre-approved,” he stated. Carrigan said there’s more to it than just showing up for work, “They have to be doing so many things in the community. They have to do community service and go to treatment classes as required. Their days are variable, but are pro-social, healthy activities.”
Carrigan explained they deal with two types of clients, “There are diversion clients who are being diverted away from prison. If they’re having problems with probation, they try a more structured environment. There are also those who are transitioning out of the system into their community. It makes more sense to have them integrated back into their own community instead of being released in Grand Junction or Denver and trying to assimilate there and eventually, about 90% of them make their way back home where they have to start over again.”
Carrigan said it’s essential to form partnerships with organizations in a community to achieve a desired goal. “I’ve got some outreach to do with the police department; I’ve talked with the sheriff’s department, the probation department, the DA and the public defender’s office, the courts. I’ve got some work to do with the local college as we use our college in Sterling. It has to be a partnership on many levels.”
By Russ Baldwin
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