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Durango woman with about 100 tickets sentenced to 45 days in jail

Kristie Boughan declined to participate in inpatient treatment program
Kristie Boughan, 62, displays a ticket she received on Dec. 11 for trespassing at the Strater Hotel. Boughan has been sentenced to 45 days in jail as part of a plea agreement to resolve about 100 outstanding tickets. (Shane Benjamin/Durango Herald file)
Dec 18, 2023
Durango’s most-ticketed woman, who’s unhoused, rolls with punches

A 62-year-old woman who earned the unfortunate distinction as being the most-ticketed person in Durango last year has been sentenced to 45 days in jail – the first notable punishment she has faced for her many municipal violations.

The punishment was handed down Jan. 10 by Municipal Judge Matt Margeson, who was hired last month by Durango City Council to bring greater accountability to repeat offenders, including making sure they show up to court and steering them toward mental health and addiction treatment programs when possible.

Kristie Boughan, who racked up dozens of citations last year, struck a plea agreement with city prosecutors. In exchange for serving 45 days in jail, all of her outstanding citations – about 100 in total – were dismissed.

The vast majority of tickets were issued for petty offenses such as trespassing, illegal camping and open containers of alcohol, among others.

Boughan, who is unhoused, tends to hang around businesses and public institutions – like the post office and Durango Transit Center – where she has been banned. One of her favorite spots is the Strater Hotel, where she has been known to take refuge inside the hotel and under a heating vent in the back loading dock.

City prosecutors had hoped Boughan would agree to enter inpatient treatment to address her alcohol use. But she was adamant that she wanted to serve a jail sentence rather than enter inpatient treatment.

“I’ve been homeless for a few years, living outside,” she told Margeson. “The past year, I guess, all these tickets came along. And it’s disgusting, and it’s too cold, and I can’t handle it anymore.

“So I’d just like to finish it off. And detention would be the best, because I’ve tried detox. I’ve been there a number of times and it just – I just didn’t work it out. I just want to quit and forget it and then I can move. I want to leave. I don’t like Durango. I just want out of it.”

Margeson said his preference would have been for Boughan to enter rehab.

“I can’t make you go, though. I don’t have that lever to pull,” he said.

A 45-day jail sentence will keep Boughan safe and warm, he said. But it does little to address her larger issue with substance abuse, he said.

“The problem that you have isn’t just chronic homelessness,” Margeson said. “The problem that you have relates to your use of alcohol. And if you don’t get that under control, it will kill you. That’s what will happen.”

Durango City Attorney Mark Morgan said a 45-day jail sentence at least disrupts Boughan’s drinking and removes her from the streets during the coldest part of the winter. He fully expects she will experience the effects of alcohol withdrawal while in jail, and the jail has resources to help her address those withdrawals.

“Breaking that cycle of intoxication and putting her in jail will change the lens that she’s looking at her life through, hopefully, and maybe she’ll be more likely to go into some type of in-house treatment or substance-abuse treatment once she’s actually sobered up and realized how detrimental the alcohol has become in her life,” Morgan said.

Last year, the Durango Police Department began ticketing Boughan on every petty offense – not as a way of piling on, but in the hopes that the previous part-time municipal court judges would take notice and sentence her to jail or use the tickets to convince her to enter some kind of treatment program, the agency said in a previous interview with The Durango Herald.

Municipal court is a low-level court that deals mostly in traffic tickets. It is not in the business of issuing lengthy jail or prison sentences. At the same time, the court needs the ability to disrupt destructive behavior by imposing consequences, Morgan said.

Most of the time, those consequences include ordering fines, sentencing offenders to community service, or directing people to obtain counseling services and other forms of intervention to disrupt negative behaviors, he said.

The days of being able to blow off municipal court without any consequences are over, Morgan said.

The new judge has shown a willingness to issue warrants to get people to appear in front of him if they have a history of blowing off court dates, he said.

“That’s a very, very small change that we’re hoping will have a huge impact on the community,” Morgan said.


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