Lab tech company aiding jail diversion efforts in Missoula - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Lab tech company aiding jail diversion efforts in Missoula

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Missoula County is on the frontier of drug court establishment efforts in Montana.

"What it's going to do is take the sample from over here and compare it to the drug ASA that are over here and see if there is a like-component there," said Joe Sickels, the lab manager at Compliance Monitoring Systems. 

CMS is a company contracted with the Missoula County District Court to use a battery of electronic monitoring devices to and testing capabilities in their Missoula office to keep clients accountable.

"The judge, the treatment teams, whoever is directly involved with that person per-say, will automatically get an emailed result to them and they can view it real time," Sickels said. 

This gives them a chance to intervene and provide services the client may need, before it's too late, and they end up incarcerated.

When Jodine Tarbert opened Compliance Monitoring Systems in 2008, she wanted to meet the court's need for community supervision. 

"What we do is definitely almost all jail diversion. I love working with the treatment courts, that's sort of my ability to utilize my history in medicine to help people in a nurturing way. We have mirrors set up to try to help us look for anything they might use for fake pee," she said. 

Samples are tested for common drugs of abuse like cocaine, methamphetamine, THC and Oxycontin as well as designer drugs.

The Montana Supreme Court released a study in 2015 documenting the success of the drug courts, which rely on 24/7 surveillance of clients from services like CMS.

The study shows graduates re-offense rates are significantly lower than than people who were terminated early.

In the 48 months following discharge from the drug courts, 13.1 percent of early terminators were arrested for felonies, compared to 4.1 percent of graduates. 

"If you get somebody treatment, and abstinence at the same time, the facts are that they're going to be far less likely to commit those same crimes," Tarbert said. 

CMS has a monitoring presence in 41 Montana counties.

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