In an attempt to reduce the high volume of low level misdemeanors for first time offenders, Freestone County District Attorney Brian Evans offers a new program.
“This program will allow my office to dispose of these types of misdemeanors quickly and in a reasonable way,” say Evans. “This will allow us to focus more on priority cases.”
The program, termed Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), will be offered strictly to first time offenders with charges of either possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces or for driving with an invalid license.
“This gives the defendant a chance to say, ‘I screwed up, but want to do better,’ and lets them move on with their life, without losing their job and having this on their record,” explains Evans.
Depending on the charge, the defendant would pay $300-$400 to enter the program and they would be monitored for a period of three to six months.
During this time, they will be subjected to random drug screening, perform community service, and must not receive any other charges.
“If they happen to fail at this program, we will still be able to prosecute as normal,” says Evans. “But this gives them the opportunity to better themselves. Many people only need one good scare to get it right.”
The PTI program is expected to bring in $10-20 thousand a year and will require a part-time employee to maintain. This employee will be responsible for working with the clients to make sure they adhere to the program and get their drug screenings in a timely manner.
“We are actually one of the last counties in Texas to offer this type of program,” explains Evans. “I would like to see this become a reality here.”
County Commissioners, at their May 3, 2017 meeting, learned about this program and voted unanimously to approve it.
“I think it’s a good program,” says Commissioner Pct 3, Mike Daniels. “This will free up time for the court and keep people out of the system who are first time offenders. I’m for it.”
Also at this meeting, Evans presented a grant application for a Victim Coordinator and Liaison through the Attorney General’s Office.
“One of the main hurdles in our office is the burden of keeping our victims informed,” Evans explains. “We are tasked with keeping in contact with victims of all types of crimes to inform them of trial dates, pleas, releases, and how the process works in general.”
In light of this, Evans requested of the Commissioners to sign a resolution agreeing to allow him to submit the grant application to the Attorney General’s office to get funding for a $35,000 salary, at no cost to the County, to hire a full-time employee to do this job. This contract would be on a two year basis.
Again, Commissioners voted unanimously to approve this grant application.
In other news, Commissioners approved minutes from the April 19, 2017 meeting, approved budget transfers and amendments, paid bills, accepted reports from various county offices, approved the updated contract for the computerized law library, approved Memorial Day firework sales (weather permitting), and agreed to leave the burn ban off for the time being.
Commissioner’s Court Meetings are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the second floor of the Courthouse.
All residents are welcome and encouraged to attend. If you cannot attend, you can view a recording of the meetings on the County’s website or via YouTube.com