County attorney “thrilled” with new probation officer

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Justice of the Peace Jay C. Sheffield hands Vanessa Williamson her badge after swearing her in on Aug. 31. (John Blodgett/The Western News file photo)

Lincoln County Attorney Marcia Boris is “absolutely thrilled” with the out-of-the-gate performance of the county’s first probation officer, she told the County Commission on Wednesday.

Vanessa Williams, of Troy, was sworn in Aug. 31 to provide pretrial supervision and probation services to misdemeanor offenders, a move the county made in part to ease jail overcrowding, enhance public safety and encourage them to be productive members of the community.

Williams has been focusing on pretrial supervision for about three weeks now because “we’re not in a place where we’re putting a lot of people on misdemeanor probation yet,” Boris said.

Williams is currently monitoring seven people who have been released pending trial. Boris offered evidence of the value of their release: two returned to the jobs they held before they were arrested and jailed, four have found work and one is enrolled in a high school equivalency program.

“Instead of sitting in jail,” exclaimed Commissioner Mark Peck.

Boris said Williams “has done tremendous work” finding resources for those she is supervising and is having them check in with her every day.

“She hasn’t had anybody miss a check-in yet,” Boris said.

Peck noted that the impact of Williams’ work is measurable, as it costs the county about $69 a day to incarcerate one person.

“And they’re working, and they’re paying taxes,” Peck added. “All of those things are so positive, as opposed to [them] just sitting [in jail].”

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