95 people out of jail on Pretrial Release program

95 people out of jail on Pretrial Release program
Published: Jul. 14, 2016 at 9:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 10, 2017 at 3:42 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Nearly 100 people are out of jail, but not off the hook, as the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office continues to expand its Pretrial Release program.

The program lets people await court dates from home, instead of in jail which racks up tax payer costs. While some people may wonder about their safety when hearing inmates are being released, only nonviolent offenders even qualify.

The charges those who are eligible face include things like minor traffic charges to misdemeanor burglaries. People who won't qualify for this program include those facing aggravated felonies, DUI charges, and other high class felonies.

Officials say the public doesn't have anything to worry about, in fact they say it is saving them taxpayer dollars.

"People have the tendency to maybe sometimes on the outside think that it's a get out of jail free card, when it's actually not a get out of jail free card. There are very much certain terms and conditions that they have to abide by," said Deputy Ray Thornton, with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office.

For 95 people, awaiting court or sentencing hearings can now be done from their home. The Pretrial Release program with the Muscogee Sheriff's office is aimed at tackling overcrowding at the jail, and backed up court dockets.

"We are actually getting people out of jail and helping them to get their lives together while they are going through whatever situation that it is that they're going though," said Thornton.

There are rules to the program. People have a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., weekly and monthly orientations, and must give up their 4th amendment right to allow deputies to search them or their homes at any time.

The initiative is also helping to save tax payers money. "If you like to do the math, we're averaging about 49 dollars per day to house an inmate," said Thornton.

If you don't like to do the math, it's $4, 655 a day, or $144,305 a month for the 95 people who are involved in the program.  This program is also 100 percent free for those involved.

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