Victim’s relative questions jail system
If he is a model inmate, and consistently participates in the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office work program, former Avon town councilman Tom Hines could get out of jail a month before his sentence ends, corrections officials said.
Hines, 41, of Edwards, pleaded guilty in August to a charge of enticement of a child, a sex crime, and is serving a 90-day jail sentence at the Eagle County jail. Hines, who was a councilman in Avon from 1991 to 1996, has also been sentenced to 10 years to life on probation.
Following Hines’ sentencing, which didn’t include prison time, a relative of the victim expressed concerned about how the jail system works in Eagle County.
“The first point is (Hines) should have gone to prison. And what irritates me is that he is supposed to get out six days earlier if he is a model inmate,” said the relative, who asked not to be named to protect the victim. “Also, for the time worked in the sheriff’s work program, he gets more days off his sentence. That’s wrong.
“The work system is to push them out of the door the fastest they can,” the relative said. “The jail administrator told me they are overcrowded and that they don’t want to send inmates to other jails using taxpayers dollars.”
Capt. Bill Kaufman, the administrator of the Eagle County jail, said state law gives people who are sentenced two days good time for every 30 days of sentence.
“It would be to my discretion if an inmate were to have any disciplinary problems while in custody to add a portion or all his days to his sentence,” Kaufman said.
Although the jail has beds for 62 inmates, it can house up to 72. Stays at the jail can go from as little as one hour – as Kobe Bryant did before he posted bond in the rape case against him – to three years.
“Once we get to 68 inmates, we get stringent on who can come in,” Kaufman said. “And I start looking at alternatives at jails in Summit or Garfield counties, for example. Whoever has space available.”
Kaufman said financial concerns are the reason he tries not to send inmates out of the county. It costs taxpayers from $45 to $60 per day to send prisoners to another jail compared to about $18 per day at the Eagle County jail, Kaufman said.
The victim’s relative also said he had a problem with the fact that inmates also get a break in their sentences by working in the sheriff’s work program. The program allows inmates convicted on level I, II and III felonies to perform services in the community such as cleaning the sheriff’s office, helping with snow removal or volunteering at the Humane Society. Inmates in the program get about two and a half days off their sentences a week for working eight hours, five days a week.
“(Inmates) should have to work and give something back to the community,” the victim’s relative said. “They should pay for the crime and not get time off because they have to clean a toilet.”
But the work program, Kaufman said, is a community service. Hines started his jail sentence on Jan. 27 and has recently started to work in the program, Kaufman said.
“Because of the crime he was convicted on, Hines was assigned to work at the Sheriff’s Office under direct supervision,” Kaufman said. “This is a strict program. If they violate any of the rules, they are out.”
Hines pleaded guilty in August at a disposition hearing before Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett. In addition to the enticement of a child charge, a class 4 felony, Hines faced two other charges – one of which was a count of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust – but Gannett accepted the plea on one charge.
As part of the sentence, Hines will be put under “sex offender intensive supervision” probation until further order of the court.
Hines will also attend and participate in a sex offender evaluation and treatment program approved by the probation officer and might have to pass polygraph tests.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at email@example.com.