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Corrections program might be too costly for some

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

Defendants facing criminal charges and earning low wages might find Morgan County's community corrections program unaffordable with fees of more than $400 per month for electronic monitoring.

Alabama Home Detention's fee schedule surprised John Glasscock, chairman of the Morgan County Community Corrections and Court Services Commission.

The Daily showed Glasscock a copy of the company's contract.

"This is the first time I've ever seen this," Glasscock said. "That is high."

Community Corrections approved the company to do the work, however, AHD's contract is with each defendant that a judge places in the program.

Chris Putnam, who said he owns AHD and Cheapest Bail Bonds, is in charge of the monitoring service.

Active monitoring, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, costs $112 per week and it could cost more.

The contract states that active monitoring cost will be: "payment of two times the hourly gross wage of the individual per day or a minimum payment of $112 per week."

A participant would pay the greater of the two amounts.

A person making $7 an hour would pay 40 percent of his income to AHD.

Curfew call monitoring costs $35 per week or $5 per day.

Other fees are associated with electronic monitoring.

A participant must pay $75 for the ankle bracelet. If Putnam or another agent has to go to court in a participant's case, the fee is $100 per hour.

The contract makes it difficult for a defendant to file a lawsuit against AHD.

The defendant would have to post a $30,000 bond to cover legal expenses for AHD, the contract states.

Putnam declined to say how he arrived at the fees.

"The amounts are a business decision," Putnam said. "A decision between me and some other people."

Courthouse nook

Putnam has a nook in the Community Corrections office at the courthouse where he and another agent put ankle bracelets on clients for monitoring.

Community Corrections Director Alison Nix recommended AHD to the Community Corrections Commission. She said AHD agents don't use county equipment to place the devices on clients, so there is no conflict. AHD does not pay rent for the space.

In addition to AHD fees, Nix charges each participant $65 when visiting her office for the first time. A client must pay $25 for initial drug testing and $10 for follow-up tests, she said.

Glasscock said he plans to discuss the electronic monitoring issue at the Community Corrections meeting Thursday.

Circuit Judge Steve Haddock, vice chairman of the Corrections Commission, declined to talk about any issues involving AHD. He said he was busy in court last week and did not have time for an interview.

In June, Lawrence County authorities said Nix was under investigation involving forgery and misappropriation of funds that belong to Hatton Youth Sports, Inc. of which she was secretary/treasurer.

Nix's attorney said she passed a lie detector test and she's innocent of the allegations.

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