Alternatives to Incarceration Programs

The Schuyler County Probation Department operates two branches of alternatives to Incarceration Programs which are community service and pre-trial release. Schuyler County Probation maintains a community service coordinator to oversee this program. Our coordinator performs questionnaire screens for individuals during the Pre-Plea or Pre-Sentence investigation process to determine if an individual is eligible for community service prior to sentencing. The findings are reported to the court in the investigation. The coordinator develops and maintains contacts with over 75 nonprofit agencies throughout the county for potential work sites. When a defendant is sentenced to complete community service, the coordinator assigns them to a worksite and then tracks their progress and reports it to the court. If a defendant fails to complete the court ordered community service within the guidelines set by the court, then the coordinator can notify the District Attorney’s Office and sentencing court and recommend that action be taken against the defendant. This could include a jail term, more community service, a fine and even a charge of criminal contempt for non-compliance with a court order. When the community service is completed successfully, it is reported to the sentencing court and the defendant’s community service case is closed.

The purpose of the pre-trial release program is to screen individuals that are in jail awaiting criminal hearings or sentencing (they must be presentence cases) to determine if they would be a flight risk and if they are eligible for a release from jail without bail until their next court date. If it is determined that they are not a flight risk, then the court may release them without bail, allowing them to function in the community while decreasing the jail population within the county. Our pre-trial release program is operated by a probation officer within the Probation Department. The officer reviews the Schuyler County Jail list on a daily basis to determine if an inmate is eligible for an interview. If a defendant is deemed eligible for an interview, and the defendant agrees to be interviewed, then the process can move forward. The officer will complete an interview with the defendant and conduct a background check and collateral checks to determine their risk of flight if released from jail. If the defendant is still eligible for release after all of those checks are complete, then the officer will make a recommendation to the court holding jurisdiction over the defendant’s case for their possible release. The judge holding jurisdiction on the case has the final say in whether a defendant is released under this program or not. The judge may deny the release, release the defendant on their own recognizance per the program without any terms, or release the defendant into the pre-trial release program with a set of conditions to follow. If the defendant is released into the program with terms, our probation officer will monitor the defendant to make sure they are compliant and that they attend their next court date. If they fail to comply, then the officer can inform the court and recommend that they be placed back in jail until the case is disposed of.