Sheriff gets grant for community service program


The Howard County Sheriff's Office received a $164,000 state grant for a program that enables some criminals to perform community service to avoid going to jail, county officials have announced.

The sheriff's office has overseen more than 500 defendants since it took over the community-service program from the state's Office of Parole and Probation last year.

Officials said 4,452 hours of community service have been provided to government agencies and 5,165 hours to nonprofit organizations in the program's first six months. Twenty-fix agencies participate in the program.

Using the base salary paid by the county, $7.90 an hour, government agencies received labor worth more than $35,000 from the program, officials said. In addition, more than $4,500 in administrative fees has been collected from defendants.

The sheriff's office received the grant from the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which provided the county with $128,000 to start the program last year.

The county took over the program to ease county Detention Center crowding and the workload of the state's probation office in Howard County.

The program is open to those convicted of such nonviolent crimes as shoplifting and drunken driving. Most participants are first-time offenders.

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