State Could Look At Monroe County Program As Model For Uncrowding Jails

Dec 29, 2014

A Monroe County program hopes to empty more jail cells through pre-trial diversion.
Credit Scott Wagner / https://www.flickr.com/photos/lonewolfhdr/5694061342

Monroe County officials are beginning work on a program they hope will reduce the number of people in the county’s jail and keep offenders from missing court appointments.

Using a $40,000 grant from the Indiana Supreme Court, the Monroe County probation department will start what’s called a pretrial release program.

It consists of a probation officer meeting with low-level offenders, screening them, then recommending whether they should be released to home detention or another community corrections program instead of being kept in jail while they wait for a trial.

Chief Probation Officer Linda Brady says her department will also invest in computer systems that will call offenders and remind them to show up to their court or probation appointments.

"Research has shown that for pretrial release programs, those kind of calls do improve the attendance, so we’re looking to have those automated so it will save staff time," Brady says.

Brady says that also means the technology will be in place to continue the program after the money runs out.

If the program is successful, the Indiana Supreme Court could implement similar measures across the state.