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You ask, we answer: who monitors court-ordered community service? | You ask, we answer

CLEAR WATER (WQOW) – It’s time for another edition of You Ask, We Answer. Friday’s question comes from Ruth wondering, “Where does a person sentenced to community service do community service, and who tallies those hours?”

Court-appointed community service can be performed at various locations in the Chippewa Valley depending on the person’s current charges, prior convictions, and availability.

For less serious crimes, a judge may give defendants the choice of community service instead of jail time at sentencing.

Aimee Drivas is the program coordinator for the Eau Claire County Court-Ordered Community Service Program, and she is the primary person who monitors hours for Eau Claire County cases.

Drivas said court-ordered community service benefits the county by saving taxpayer money while reducing the prison population.

“The benefit to the defendant is in the stabilizing factors, because we know even two nights in jail can completely disrupt employment, childcare and housing issues,” Drivas said.

Drivas said people can’t just mow someone’s lawn for community service. This must be done through a non-profit association. Fortunately, 130 agencies work with this program, including Building Hope, Community Table and the Eau Claire County Humane Association.

“I think it’s important for people to know that the defendants we serve are Eau Claire County cases convicted by an Eau Claire County judge,” Drivas said. “Defendant can live out of county or state. That’s fine. I’m still watching the hours.”

Program participants must submit a time sheet signed by the agency by the 7th day of the month. Those who fail to complete the hours within a certain amount of time can face days in jail.

Drivas said the success or failure of a defendant depends on them. If they put in their hours and play by the rules of the program, they won’t go to jail.

Drivas monitors hours ranging from 230 to 400 cases per month. She currently has defendants from seven different states.

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