Created by an Anderson County Commission resolution in 2011, the Alternatives to Incarceration, or ATI, program has been batted around as a political hot topic. Though there appears to be disagreement regarding the program, there seems to be agreement on the purpose, intent, and merit of the program. As is the case with most programs, debate centers on implementation.
After much study of ATI as currently structured, I offered steps in our budget proposal to allow us to step away from the mistakes or misunderstandings that took place at the program’s inception in 2011, restructure with more modest and measurable goals, and allow room for growth in the number of clients the program will serve. Small steps forward will allow for much needed growth in trust and credibility of the program itself. The program also needs more realistic, tangible goals to achieve success, and it needs a cooling-off period to allow the mission to depoliticize.
Success requires the confidence of participants, that is, ATI stakeholders like our public defender, our district attorney general, our judges, and our law enforcement community.
The proposed restructuring emphasizes the original mission of the program—offering true alternatives to alleviate jail overcrowding—but it also redirects 1.62 cents on the tax rate to immediate needs: more detention officers. [Read more…]