Officials update Missoula City Council, county commissioners on jail diversion

Posted at 5:53 PM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-18 19:53:39-04

MISSOULA – City and county officials met with Missoula County Sheriff TJ Mcdermott, Justice Landee Holloway and others on Wednesday to get an update on how jail diversion efforts were coming along.

The Jail Diversion Master Plan was approved back in November 2016 and on Wednesday the Missoula City Council and Board of County Commissioners received an update on its progress.

Among the updates, Assistant Commander of Missoula County Detention Facilities, Sheryl Ziegler, announced that Planned Parenthood of Montana will be providing medical services for the detention facility, including offering separate psychiatric coverage from its medical coverage to better accommodate mental health needs.

Also, programs that meet the needs of Native Americans, such as Regaining the Warrior and Mending Broken Hearts, are now being offered in jails.

Officials also talked about the positive effects of the Crisis Intervention Team that has been utilized to identify people with mental health needs and how to accommodate them.

Overall, the idea is to identify members of the population and what their needs are, something McDermott says is happening.

"Identifying people that were low risk nonviolent non-dangerous." Sheriff of Missoula County TJ McDermott said "People with a substance abuse issue and mental health challenges and to work with courts prosecutors, attorneys and other community stake holders to divert these people from jail to treatment or other supervision programs outside of a jail setting which has been super successful."

A new system that will use texting to inform people of court dates is another idea from the jail diversion program that will attempt to lower unnecessary court appearances.

Overall there are more than 60 recommendations that officials believe can help lower unnecessary incarcerations.