Gallatin County Court Services was created from three existing departments – Pretrial Services, Community Corrections and Treatment Court – to conjointly assist the criminal justice system in both the pre-trial and post-adjudication phases of criminal cases. All three programs focus on decreasing the jail population, allowing many offenders the opportunity to lead normal lives within the conditions set by the courts, address alcohol and drug problems and provide the venue to serve the community within the larger concept of restorative justice. Court Services’ alternatives provide the courts an array of options with regard to bail conditions, alcohol and drug testing and sentencing options.
In October, Electronic Monitoring was added to Court Services to expand the Department’s scope of services in both pre- and post-adjudication court mandates. Offenders are strictly supervised within their pre-arranged boundaries by an electronic ankle transmitter and a home monitor. Violations are immediately sent to the prosecutor and the court of jurisdiction.
A Misdemeanor Probation officer was added to ensure that offenders follow the sentencing requirements imposed by Justice Court, Bozeman Municipal Court and Belgrade City Court.
A Department of Justice grant was received through the Montana Board of Crime Control to expand the services of the Misdemeanor Probation program by funding an Assistant Misdemeanor Probation Officer. The new position allowed the program to expand its services. By adding the assistant position, the program quickly expanded from approximately 35 probationers to 120 probations. The program now has the ability to respond to the needs of the court by supervising probationers with lengthy criminal histories or past non-compliance issues.
The Director of Court Services announced his resignation and Gallatin County started their search for a new Director. On March 1, 2010, Steve Ette assumed the position of Director of Court Services/Treatment Court Coordinator.
After the Sheriff Deputy assigned to Court Services Misdemeanor Probation Program announced his resignation, the Misdemeanor Probation Officer was modified from a Sheriff Deputy position to a full time POST accredited Misdemeanor Probation Officer. This shift provided the program the necessary stability and commitment to move forward while meeting the needs of the Courts. The Pretrial Program, in collaboration with the Gallatin County Detention Center and Western Montana Mental Health Center, received a grant through the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Department of Justice to continue funding for the mental health initiative that allows for the identification of defendants with mental health issues who would benefit from assistance with therapy, release conditions that may include electronic monitoring, and random drug and alcohol testing, as well as wrap around services such as housing and employment assistance. The mental health initiative assists to reduce the incarceration of defendants who have mental health issues that, if addressed, may reduce the need for further criminal justice interventions.
The Pretrial Program is pursuing a continuation grant to fund the mental health initiative. Currently, approximately 50 defendants are actively involved in this process. If approved, the initiative will continue to provide valuable services such as therapy, housing and employment assistance, monitoring, and case management.
The Court Services facility underwent a major renovation and created a waiting lobby, a secure area within the office for the receptionist, installed safety barriers to limit access, remodeled an office into a testing bathroom with an area for the Officers to test, store and maintain a chain of evidence of drug and alcohol test samples. Also, a significant area was renovated into secure storage for files that contain Criminal Justice Information. The remodel significantly increased the safety of the staff as well as the efficiencies involving the testing of defendant’s for drugs and alcohol.
A significant increase in drug and alcohol testing, as well as an increase in Pretrial defendants, prompted the modification of the misdemeanor Probation Officer Assistant position into a Pretrial Officer position. With the elimination of the Probation Officer Assistant, the Community Corrections Officers was modified into a Misdemeanor Probation Officer/Community Corrections Officer. The Misdemeanor Probation Supervisor assumed the responsibility for the Community Corrections Officer making the Misdemeanor Probation Supervisor the Misdemeanor Probation/Community Corrections Supervisor.
The Receptionist position was modified into the Administrative Support Technician who assumed many of the financial duties and responsibilities from the Special Projects Officer.
During the budget process, Court Services received additional funding to offset the increase in alcohol and drug testing.
In March of 2014, the DUI Task Force Coordinator was placed under the supervision of the Director of Court Services. The DUI Task Force coordinator also announced her retirement effective August 14, 2014 and the Task Force moved to develop a new job description for the Task Force Coordinator. The Task Force also updated the by-laws. A new DUI Task Force Coordinator will be sought to fill the vacant position in the near future.