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Commissioners review STS credit hours

Wadena County Commissioner Bill Stearns brought up a subject he said "rankles" him while he had the attention of the sheriff and jail administrator, who were both at the Nov. 3 county board meeting.

Todd and Wadena counties give inmates one hour off their sentence for each hour they do Sentence to Serve work.

Stearns said state guidelines allow for inmates to get one 24-hour day off their sentence for each 8-hour day they work.

"You're stricter than state guidelines and it's costing our tax payers money," Stearns said.

Sheriff Mike Carr said the issue isn't only about tax payer dollars, it's about victims, too. The victim doesn't want the inmate getting a break.

"We make them work three [eight-hour] days to accumulate one [24-hour] day," Carr said.

Jail Administrator Tom Speed said the hour for hour arrangement holds prisoners accountable for the time they put in.

Stearns said he understands that but wants the sheriff's department to review it.

In an interview, Carr said STS inmates have not been the source of clogging up the jail. People waiting to be sentenced are the reason for out-of-county boarding costs, he said. And out-of-county boarding costs have been cut almost in half from a year ago.

Chairman Dave Schermerhorn agrees with Stearns, he said. But he urged them to "quit beating this dead horse" and get back to the agenda.

Commissioners Lane Waldahl and Rodney Bounds said they agreed with the sheriff's stance. Commissioner Ralph Miller said he could see both sides, but overall agreed with the sheriff.