I’m responding to Jeff Havens' inaccurate assessment of our jail overcrowding! As a reporter you should have visited the jail and seen there is NO SPACE to conduct much needed risk assessments to safely triage this population to determine eligibility for pre-trial or alternatives to incarceration. NO SPACE for mental health screening or programming. You’d have seen the antiquated technology which provides NO DATA that would allow us to safely track inmates, or send out court date notifications! You’d have known we are using electronic monitoring, drug testing, treatment courts, YWCA transitional housing for those our Judges determine appropriate.

Fact is, our court system is just as backed up as our jails and “slow case processing” is outside the jail's control. As is DOC’s inability to pick up state inmates. Holding inmates on “minor charges” is often based on the fact inmates can’t come up with bail money. Dedicated professionals, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and County Commissioners are very aware and working hard to address deficits and improve our current criminal justice system.

Most offensive of all, your logic leaves our dedicated staff in horrendous dangerous conditions. That is irresponsible reporting and unconscionable. 

Annie Z. Maixner

Helena

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