In 1984 Alternatives, Inc. started the Beta Alternatives Program working with Yellowstone County to offer alternatives to jail placement for indigent offenders and those convicted of misdemeanor offenses. Today Beta Alternatives offers a wide range of community based correctional programs in Yellowstone, Carbon, and Stillwater Counties serving over 6,000 clients annually and employs 14 persons in this program.
Jail Alternatives are supervision and treatment services designed to reduce jail overcrowding, teach responsibility, keep indigent offenders out of jail, permit non-dangerous offenders to retain employment, and to save the taxpayer money.
The origins of these programs are found in the 1970’s with the Deferred Prosecution Program offered by the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office and the Community Service Program in the Yellowstone County Justice Court. Alternatives, Inc. assumed administrative responsibility for these two programs in 1984 and gradually added supervision services such as Detention, Work-Release, Restitution Collection, Electronic Monitoring, Misdemeanor Probation Supervision, and Urinalysis Screening. Additionally, Alternatives has added education and counseling programs for Partner or Family Member Assault, Aggression Control, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Minor-in-Possession, Criminal Thinking, Traffic Offenses (Driver’s Safety), and Tobacco Cessation. Click here for a program referral form and more information on program offerings.
These programs provide a menu of supervision options to sentencing judges and other referral sources, which can be utilized separately or in combination based on the severity of the offense, the client’s level of need, and the degree of compliance shown by the offender. A high priority is placed on community safety as nearly 6,000 offenders per year go through jail alternatives programs.
The efforts of approximately 466 non-profit, city, county, state, and federal community service sites in three counties are coordinated by Alternatives, Inc. These sites provide supervision for and benefit from the efforts of community service workers. Since the program’s inception 14,530 community service workers of all ages have provided 975,958 hours of janitorial, yardwork, childcare, bus cleaning, and clerical services valued at nearly two million dollars. When performing community service, offenders gain respect for the law while being given the chance to pay back their debt to society.
All too often it is the taxpayer who must bear the cost of carrying out a sentence. All offenders assigned to jail alternatives, however, pay at least a portion of the cost of supervision. For instance, the Detention and Work-Release program requires the offender to pay for the cost of his/her incarceration rather than “sitting-it-out” in the county jails at an expense to the taxpayer of up to $45 per day.