By SARA VANDEN BERGE Staff Writer: Stephenville Empire- Tribune

A familiar face has made his way back into Erath County law enforcement as Weldon Wilson began his new position Monday as the county's new pre-trial release officer.

In an effort to address the growing jail population, county officials developed the new position, which is primarily responsible for processing non-violent inmates who can't afford bond, out of the county jail at a faster rate. Wilson said the program is designed to reduce jail overcrowding and save the county money on indigent inmates.

"The way the program is set up, I will interview new arrestees within the first 48 hours of their arrest to assess their status and discuss bonding with them," Wilson said. "It's important to get these people back to work as fast as we can - instead of just allowing them to sit in jail at taxpayer's expense."

If it is determined that an inmate is eligible for release, Wilson said they will be responsible for paying either $20 or three percent of their bond (whichever is greater) before they are released.

The inmates will then have to report weekly to Wilson, who will "keep close tabs on them" and notify them of their court date.