The Newport City Council heard a presentation from Paul Ross of the Justice Network at their annual meeting Monday night.
According to Ross the Justice Network Inc. is a professional, privately operated firm that provides "alternative sentencing" programs to traditional jail sentencing. "Basically what is boils down to is the District Court wanted the option of being able to place defendants on probation," said Ross. "In other words to suspend jail time and give them other options they (the court) could do." According to information provided by Ross, The Justice Network administers and effective combination of Probation, House Arrest, Curfew, Victim Restitution and structured Alcohol and Drug Treatment programs. They also provide DUI School and Drug education programs. This in essence allows the court a multitude of options when sentencing other than your typical jail sentence. "Normally, The Justice Network recommends an alternative sentencing program that is presented to the Defense and Prosecuting Attorneys," says Ross. "The court will consider this recommendation and make the final decision." According to Ross, there is a fee for such services, but those fees would be paid for by the offender not the city. "Justice is achieved without any cost to the taxpayer or adding to the problem of our already overcrowded prisons where space for violent criminals is seriously needed," said Ross. Ross also expects the percentage of non-paid fines should go down since a defendant will be required to make face-to-face visits with Justice Network officers and given random drug/alcohol test to assure that all of the Court's requirements are being followed. "Basically were the tattle-tales, we don't have any enforcement powers we can't go out and arrest somebody. But were the tattle-tales, and were real good at it," said Ross. "Were in constant communications with the Judge and the court." The council seemed intrigued by the idea and they are expected to review the contract and vote on a resolution at the next council meeting. In other business, - The council chose a $122,635 bid from Rivercity Hydraulics, of Sherwood, for a 20 cubic yard commercial sanitation truck. The city had originally budgeted $125,000 for the purchase putting them approximately $2365 under budget. - After rebidding the 2013 trash loader, the council received and approved a bid from Rivercity Hydraulics for $111,248. Again, the city is under budget as they originally budgeted $120,000 for the purchase. - The city approved a bid from Harris Ford to purchase three police cars at $24,858 each. That purchase comes in under budget as well as they originally planned to spend 80,000. - The city sales tax figures for the month of January were $121,916 up $3,376 from Jan. 2012. The County sales tax was $72,032 down just $1,445 from last year. The NEDC tax brought in $62,699 up $1,651 from last years total.