The Carbon County Sheriff’s Office saw a need for some kind of community supervision for people in the pre-trial phase of judicial experience. With that in mind, pre-trial services were created.
The idea behind the program is, for example, when a citizen is arrested on a felony crime, it can now be reduced to a misdemeanor upfront based on criminal history. The individual would then get out of jail and could potentially spend a long period of time waiting for trial, only to get in trouble again in the meantime. It can be a vicious cycle.
The sheriff’s office was awarded a grant for community supervision similar to adult probation. A judge can release a citizen and put them on this program to make sure that they are maintaining employment, being productive and are a low-risk to public safety.
“I am very excited about this, I think we can really make a dent in people’s lives by not letting people get so in over their heads to the point that they feel hopeless,” stated sheriff Jeff Wood.
Treatment in pre-trial services can be multifaceted. Every jail is now mandated to perform an assessment on individuals at the time they are arrested. The idea is to have low-to-moderate risk people in the program, people that are not a risk to public safety and are non-violent. High risk offenders are often mixed with the low and moderate risk people in the jail system. Instead of lowering the high-risk people, it increases the risk of the others. Wood believes it is a safer bet to put low risk individuals in the community rather than in jail.
This service has never been offered before in Carbon County. Up to 30 people in the county can be supervised with this program at one time. There will be access to electronic monitors that can restrict community involvement. There will be 15 monitors to begin with.
This program is currently developing policies and procedures and will be presented to judges so that they are aware of what they have access to.
“This is a proactive approach to our community’s major issue,” Wood stated. “We are giving people an opportunity to help themselves while being accountable.”