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The Sarasota County commissioners had plenty of plaudits on Wednesday, June 25, for Sheriff Tom Knight, who presented statistics showing crime is down 33 percent since 2008. And while they want to make sure their finan- cial staff has a chance to crunch the numbers, the majority of them also voiced strong sup- port for a late request Knight relayed from Chief Judge Andrew D . O w e n s J r . o f t h e 1 2 t h J u d i c i a l Circuit Court. Owens wants to expand the Sheriff's Offender Work Program, which is keeping about 300 people a year out of the jail. Commissioner Joe Barbetta called the $136,291 cost "money well spent." Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson pointed out, "It stops the downward spiral for some people because they lose their jobs once they go to jail. You can find yourself on the streets, home- less" upon release after incarceration, she added, if a steady job cannot be found. When Robinson asked whether the funding People in the Sheriff's Offender Work Program deal with tree debris. Photo courtesy Sheriff's Office BIG BANG FOR THE BUCKS THE SHERIFF CITES A 33-PERCENT DROP IN CRIME SINCE HE TOOK OFFICE AS HE SEEKS ABOUT A 3.6-PERCENT BUDGET INCREASE THAT INCLUDES MORE MONEY FOR A PROGRAM THAT HOLDS DOWN JAIL EXPENSES It's money well spent, no question about it. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor

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