Court compliance program approaches anniversary

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

The Quay County Misdemeanor Court Compliance Program is approaching its first anniversary.

In effect since July 1, 2004, the program has monitored more than 100 individuals convicted of misdemeanor offenses. The purpose of the monitoring is to keep offenders from returning to jail, program supervisor Noreen Hendrickson said.

“The state adult probation office wanted to concentrate on felony cases,” Hendrickson said, “so a state statute was created that authorized Magistrate Judge Edwin Bruhn to allow a county court compliance program.”

Hendrickson said she and a full-time employee monitor court-mandated probations, doing everything from checking to see that drug offenders are not using drugs, to making sure offenders pay court-ordered restitution to victims.

“Offenders check in weekly with us and if they don’t we refer them back to the court,” Hendrickson said. “Most people want to comply so they can get their court business over with, but some don’t comply. People with substance-abuse problems can find it difficult to comply.”

Hendrickson, who also heads the county’s DWI program, has requested the county commission authorize the creation of a part-time position to help keep up with the monitoring of misdemeanor offenders.

“The part-time employee would be a county employee but would be paid out of probation fees collected by the court compliance program,” Hendrickson said. “The county commission has tabled addressing the possibility of a new employee until the next commission meeting June 13.”

County Commissioner Franklin McCasland said it appears likely a new employee position will be created for the court compliance program.

“We are looking at the possibility of a new employee for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1,” McCasland said. “We have to see if the probation fees will cover paying someone for 32 hours per week or if we would only have enough for someone to work maybe 15 hours per week.”

Hendrickson said most misdemeanor offenders prefer being monitored by local county employees rather than by state adult probation office employees.

“They know we are trying to help them stay out of jail,” she said.