FAIRMONT - Sentencing To Service is a program through which people who have broken the law can work off fines imposed by courts.
The court and probation officers pick the people who make it into the program. Those chosen are low-risk offenders. Usually they've broken a traffic law, such as speeding, and just don't have the cash to pay the fine.
They can work a full eight hours per day, Wednesday through Saturday. If they have a job, they can choose to work Saturdays until their fine is paid.
Funding for the program comes through the state, which pays 25 percent, and counties, which pay 75 percent.
Crew members receive $6 per hour for their labor, but never see the money, says Tom Hennis, crew leader for Faribault County. It goes straight to pay their fines.
"It's not difficult, but tedious work," Hennis said. "Some things we do are labor-intensive. After a full day of this, you know you did something."
The STS crews work for non-profits. They do a lot of work for cities and government programs, such as conservation projects. Those wishing to secure the help of an STS crew need to contact Hennis at (507)?526-6285 or Kyle Redenius and John McDonald, crew leaders in Martin County, at (507) 236-2494 or (507) 236-2493.
"They need to meet the criteria," Hennis said. "There's a laundry list of things."
The program has guidelines for what crews can and cannot do. One thing they cannot perform is skilled labor.
"We can't go in and displace somebody," Hennis said. "We can't work in certain areas and do certain things. We can't build the jail, but we can help with cleanup."
The number of people available to work depends on how many are assigned to STS, so crews may not be available when asked.
"We try to accommodate everybody as best we can," Hennis said. If a crew isn't available, "We ask if we can put it off and work on it another time. People are really good about it."