Program in EBR gives certain people option to seek treatment instead of jail time
EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The Pre-Trial Diversion and Recovery Program in East Baton Rouge Parish is giving certain people the option to seek treatment instead of time behind bars.
Funding was received in September of 2017 to launch the initiative, and it is now fully funded by the East Baton Rouge City-Parish.
According to officials, the program aims to seek out non-violent offenders in jail who face a mental health or substance abuse challenge. Potential program participants are identified and then assessed.
If officials think a participant is a good fit for the program, that person is released from jail to begin a four to six-month treatment plan. The treatment typically includes an inpatient substance abuse program followed by several months at a halfway house. People with mental health issues are required to go to psychiatric appointments.
“We’re saying rather than sit in jail and wait until your case comes along the traditional process, why don’t we engage to say get out of jail and head to treatment,” said Judge Don Johnson, chief judge at the 19th Judicial District Court. “It’s a diversion, and we’re sending you into treatment. We’re treating the underlying issues that drove you here to the criminal court system.”
Officials said that all participants in the program must also take part in job training, educational programs, and other programs that will hopefully lead to future success and prevent a return to jail.
“The cycle is the problem. The issues are very simple. We’ve got citizens who are engaging in criminal conduct. The reason that they’re coming back is because the interventions have not worked,” Judge Johnson said.
If a participant does not follow the requirements for the Pre-Trial Diversion and Recovery Program, a warrant is then immediately issued for that person’s arrest.
“The idea is to intentionally address the issue and hold the individual accountable,” Judge Johnson added.
For more information about the program, click here.
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