EL CENTRO – Gilbert Otero, Imperial County District Attorney, asked the Board of Supervisors to authorize a contract with the National Corrective Solutions Group to establish a pre-charge, pretrial, diversion program, referred to as the Community Accountability Program.
The D.A.â€™s office informed the board that the county would not be fiscally responsible for the implementation or running of the program that defers jail time to first time offenders. Corrective Solutions will bear all costs.
The program is meant to address the root causes of criminal involvement, then provide a plan to correct the unlawful behavior.
Eligible individuals , those accused of committing certain lesser crimes, may avoid jail time, while the county rescues them from the criminal cycle. Prosecution will be deferred, while the individual enters the program that he or she will pay into. The fee is to help hold accountable the criminal. Upfront fees of $175 are followed by another $50 fee to the D.A.â€™s office and a monthly charge of $40.
Those qualified are first time offenders guilty of simple battery, minors with possession of drugs, driving without a license and other lesser crimes.
Otero gave an example of the program using someone who wrote a bad check, with insufficient funds. Instead of prosecuting the individual, the person would be given basic instruction on how to balance a check book, simple financial tools, plus fees, and behavioral therapy.
â€œAll this we want to do before we have to open up a file, before we have to go to court, once they get in the system. What we want to do right here is if they are serious about not wanting to recommit other crimes, letâ€™s take care of it in the front end instead of waiting for the back end,â€ District Attorney Otero told the board.
The board voted 5-0 in favor of the program.