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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow County operating its own parole, probation dept.

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County operating its own parole, probation dept.

Wallowa County ends cooperative agreement with Union County ENTERPRISE — As of July 1, Wallowa County is running its own parole and probation department through the sheriff’s office. Previously, the county contracted with Union County for its services.

Sheriff Fred Steen said parole and probation was run for a number of years under a cooperative agreement with Union County. Wallowa County, he said, contributed its share of state grant money to Union County in exchange for a parole and probation officer to visit clients once a week and to administer the program. However, Steen and county officials agreed that this was not enough.

“Many on parole/probation have been able to get away with things and they think it’s kind of a joke,” Steen said.

Steen said that he’s had the support of the commissioners and District Attorney Mona Williams. County Commission Chairman Mike Hayward said he supported the sheriff’s proposal to bring the program closer to home.

“The challenge, as I understand it, was having someone come up from Union County one day a week on a schedule is too predictable. By having the program in-house where, a staff person can flex their time, will make parolees and probationers more accountable,” Hayward said.

Steen said keeping funds from Senate Bill 1145 at home will help them run their own program.

“It will allow us to be more diligent, the parolees more accountable, and we hope to reduce the rate of recidivism with someone here to check on them at any time,” Steen said.

Steen said if the program faces funding cuts, he’s prepared to get “really creative” with his budget to keep the program under his department.

Steen said dispatcher Beth Hulse will now divide her time between the dispatch office and checking in with parole and probation clients. The county has 36 people in the program.

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