Program aims to lower jail overcrowding

6:44 PM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The Penobscot County Sheriff's office has partnered with Volunteers of America to give those people an alternative when they are unable to afford the hefty fines. It really is-- not only are the participants able to work off their fines, but it frees up our local police department and our courts. 

Keri Alley with Volunteers of America said, "No one should have to say, 'Well am i going to pay my fines today or am i going to risk going to jail and keep a roof over my head.' That's just not an option that anyone should have to be faced with."

The program focuses on those who are unable to pay off their debt and find themselves racking up more fines and facing jail time. Five people have completed the program with about 30 people enrolled. 

Recently enrolled participant Christopher Cunningham said, "I am because coming up with that money and still being able to live. My children you know...winter clothes. They are always losing their gloves and mittens so being able to work it off rather than just having to pay the money up front it's very exciting."

The father of four has nearly $1,200 due to the court a large bill which keeps growing as he is unable to make the minimum payments. Through the program he will work 120 hours, but he tells me it is a relief. 

Volunteers of America of Northern New England has partnered with 25 local non-profits. They are always looking for more local non-profits to work with to provide more opportunities. 

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