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Alternatives to Incarceration

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 12:00pm

 

Douglas County has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the state and it is far below the national average. This is, in part, due to the County’s array of programs to divert individuals safely away from jail. Safely diverting individuals from jail not only relieves some of the overcrowding currently at the jail, but it also allows these individuals to maintain employment and family ties, improving their chances of changing their behavior and making positive contributions in our community when they participate in an alternative to incarceration program.

Individuals who meet certain criteria, including most importantly not being a public safety risk, may participate in these programs. Recent additions to our alternatives to incarceration have been proposed and implemented through the work of Douglas County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Pretrial Release

The Pretrial Release program is for low-risk adult defendants while they are awaiting trial. From May – December 2017, the program diverted 197 defendants saving nearly 6,000 jail bed days.

House Arrest

The House Arrest program is a sentencing option for judges for offenders with non-violent crimes, first offenses or juvenile offenses. Since October, 24 offenders are utilizing this program.

Behavioral Health Court

The Behavioral Health Court (BHC) is a specialized court docket for mentally ill offenders whose symptoms contribute toward their criminal behavior. Eligible clients voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised course of treatment. In 2017, 15 offenders have been served by the BHC, with two of those individuals already successfully completing their treatment.

 

Assess-Identify-Divert

The Assess-Identify-Divert program (AID) screens women, veterans, and individuals believed to have a serious mental illness when they are booked into jail.  The screening information is used to provide recommendations for release from jail into appropriate services in the community.  The program was launched in 2016 and by December 31, 2017 has served 312 individuals.  The AID program has been recognized by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as a national best practice.

District Attorney Diversion

Diversions by the District Attorney is another program to divert qualifying individuals from jail. Defendants have their case dismissed if they successfully complete their individualized program that often focus on counseling, treatment and behavior modification instead of punitive measures.
In 2018, working with DCCCA and reentry staff at the jail, the District Attorney is adding another diversion program specifically aimed at non-violent repeat female offenders who have an identified substance use disorder. The goal is to offer a program that will allow for quick release from jail to a suite of support services that will address issues of substance abuse, mental health, housing and employment.

The purpose of this information is to educate the public. We encourage all Douglas County residents to learn more about alternatives to incarceration and how these programs can impact public safety, including operations at the jail, in order to make an informed decision about these issues.

 

Media Contact

Douglas County
785-832-5100