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Missoula company works to help addicts

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(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

Jails filled to the max and dwindling foster care options continue to plague many Montana counties. But one Missoula service bucks the trend by keeping non-violent drug offenders in the community, working -- and with their families.

Jodine Tarbert is the owner of Compliance Monitoring Systems, a company that works with the courts to treat addiction and manage other variables to keep users from re-offending.

“There is an enormous need for community supervision, because so many individuals, number one, would not thrive well in a jail setting for a long period of time, a lot of times you lose your children, you lose your jobs," Tarbert said.

"And if they're deemed safe enough to be out in the community and on some sort of monitoring, I think its so much more beneficial, not only for them but for the county as well, because its very expensive to house somebody in jail,” he added.

A Pew study produced by the Public Safety Performance Project shows similar trends nationwide.

The 33 states, including Montana, that were able to provide data report spending as much as 22 times more per day to manage prison inmates than to supervise offenders in the community. It costs an average of $79 per day, which is nearly $29,000 a year. The average cost of managing an offender in the community ranges from about $3 to $7.50 per day, or $1,250 to $2,750 per year.

Tarbert's company reports spending $9 per day to manage a single individual, using lab testing and technology like GPS tracking.

"Whether its addiction, or mental illness, having a good idea of the person's mindset helps tremendously when you're doing community corrections. You know what their weaknesses are, what might trigger them to use again,” Tarbert said.

Missoula has four drug courts that target specific user populations, family, youth, co-occuring -- which is for people living with mental illness -- and a veteran's drug court.

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