County May Expand Probation Fee

Officials ask to collect $30 from everyone in system

By Holly Crocco

Residents enrolled in drug-treatment court may soon be required to pay the $30-per-month fee charged to others who are on probation.

According to Gene Funicelli, the director of probation, people sent to treatment court have not been charged the fee because their cases are considered to be pending while they complete the program, which typically takes 18 to 24 months.

Funicelli asked legislators at the Rules Committee meeting on June 19 to change the law to allow his department to charge the fee to those in treatment court because they are getting the same services.

There are about 450 people on probation in Putnam County, including about 70 enrolled in treatment court. (After graduating from treatment court, participants are placed on probation for up to three years, during which they pay the fee.)

The department offers a hardship waiver, Funicelli noted, for people with disabilities, those receiving public assistance, the unemployed and others with limited income. Any given time, about 50 percent of the people on probation are eligible, he said.

Legislator Ginny Nacerino (R-Patterson) noted that if half of the 70 treatment-court participants have their fee waived, a change in the law would only generate about $1,000 a month for the county.

However, Legislator Neal Sullivan (R-Mahopac) said “it’s more about being equitable. If you’re on probation, whether you’re in the special drug program or you’re in the other probation program, you should be paying.”

The three-member committee unanimously approved the proposed change, which the full Legislature is expected to consider at its July 3 meeting.

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