Tracking offenders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2006

We have all heard how backlogged our judicial system is.

In an effort to help decrease that backlog, Alabama’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Community Corrections Program tracks and monitors progress by making sure offenders are in compliance.

Their purpose is to prevent overcrowding in prisons by offering first time offenders an opportunity to complete a program and prevent ruining their lives.

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The program takes referrals from municipal, district and circuit courts, and with the addition of staff can more effectively cover the entire circuit.

The organization recently hired three staffers.

Since May 2003 the organization that focuses on “institutional diversion” has grown.

It currently has 290 active cases, and a Lauderdale Street office across from the courthouse.

Last quarter, 58 defendants successfully completed the program throughout the five-county area, according to its quarterly report.

Clients have specific activities, including submitting to drug screening, for between three and nine months.

The Community Corrections Program gets its funding different ways:

Through a grant from the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Payment by clients.

The Administrative Office of Courts.

Because of the backlog in the courts, and because of overcrowded prisons, the judicial system has to continue finding progressive alternatives to traditional sentencings.

This appears to be one such alternative.