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An Option To Jail

Richard Martell, FSI Reporter

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1976      v05 n01 p35  
An Option To Jail The Fine Option Program is intended to offer an alternative to imprisonment for non-payment of fines in Saskatchewan. This program is available to any offender who is assessed a tine in a court in Saskatchewan. All, tines are included in .a two-year experimental period that is Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Statutes. The alternative is the opportunity to work off the fine by volunteer service to the community. Offenders may enter the tine option program on his own or by referral of the court or any other agency.

To accomplish this, the Fine Option Program will work with community groups to develop work options for the offender, it also will enter into agreements with community-based organizations to act as assigning agencies. The assigning agencies will then administer the Fine Option Program at a local level.

If the offender is presently employed, a weekend or evening work option will be offered if possible. The amount of work will be determined by the amount of Fine, including court costs divided by the minimum wage; supposing, the fine is $100.00, at the minimum wage of $2.50 per hour, it will require 40 hours of work. However, if a portion of the fine has been paid, only the balance will be converted to work option.

The roles of the Fine Option assigning agency are to provide an administrative service on a contractual basis: It also will be responsible for interviewing and assisting the offender in choosing a work option. It also will be responsible in notifying the court of progress of the offender. They would also receive from the court, a list of offenders who have not paid their fines.

An Option To Jail

Richard Martell, FSI Reporter

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1976      v05 n01 p36  

The role of the court clerk is to provide the names and, addresses of offenders who have not paid their fines. In some cases, I have noted that this is not the case. I have been told that some clerks will not release this information. I spoke to Percy Derocher, Band Administrator of the Flying Dust Reserve, who runs this Fine Option Program and was told that he has had only one case of an offender making use of this program. In this particular case, the offender had to go to the court clerk and ask for the Fine Option Program.

This program also includes the Waterhen Indian Reserve which has had six cases of offenders with fines ranging from $52.00 to $500.00 who have utilized this program. In all six cases, the fines were successfully paid off. I talked to Thomas Fiddler, who is in charge of the - Fine Option Program in Waterhen, and he said that this program has been very successful.

The procedure for reimbursement is that at the end of each month, the assigning agency will remit to the Fine Option Program forms for each offender who has completed all or any portion of his work option and for each offender who has not volunteered a court referral form. Reimbursement will be at the rate of $5.00 per match-up; meaning that for every person who pays their fine, the, agencies get five dollars to cover costs such as paper work, phone calls, etc.

In the Fine Option Program, there is a total of four forms which are to be filled out:

  1. Form #D.S.S. 8918 which is a contract between the Fine Option Program and the community agencies.
  2. Form #D.S.S. 8912 is the interview form.
  3. Form #D.S.S. 8914.
  4. Form #D.S.S. 8916 is a court referral for each offender that has not volunteered.

The roles of the employing agency will be as follows:

Finally, the roles of the field officers are to develop and supply list of work options; to be available to describe and discuss the Fine Option Program to offenders, police, probation and correctional personnel; to be available when questions arise concerning quantity or quality of offenders work; and finally to complete form #D.S.S: 8915 regarding work option.

And this is the Fine Option Program, in which any offender is entitled to. So far, any person I have talked to has told me that this program is very successful and hope that offenders will take note of this program. As one offender put it, "It is sure better to work your fine off then to spend sometime in the cooler."

So in conclusion, would recommend this program to anyone who has stepped on the wrong side of the law.

The Fine Option works as follows:

  1. Fine is assessed by the court and if fine cannot be paid by offender;
  2. He is referred to the Fine Option Agency;
  3. Who then issues letter of invitation to offender;
  4. If offender does not report, court is notified and may issue warrant, but if offender reports, he is interviewed and work option is assigned;
  5. The court is then notified that offender has reported and has accepted work option;
  6. The offender then reports to the employing agency and performs work option;
  7. The employing agency completes report and returns it to Fine Option assigning agency;
  8. If, work option is not completed, the court is notified and may issue warrant and if the work is, completed, the court is notified and accepts work completion as payment of fine.