A new program has begun in Shiawassee County to keep inmates out of jail before trial.

Last week, a new program was put into action in Shiawassee County that lets inmates avoid being in jail while awaiting trial. The program is called "SCOUT," which stands for Shiawassee County Observation Under Tether and was just recently approved by the county commissioners.

Sometimes it’s not always fair to deny someone access to bail because they don’t have the money to post it, and economical disadvantages isn’t always a fair basis to deny someone bail...said Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart.

Most tether programs are used after someone has been sentenced in court. This tether program is before the trial and would allow the person to do things they need to do before court including mental health or substance abuse treatments and going to work.

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As this program has just started, there are five tethers that are currently being leased out at a cost of $8 per day which is taken care of by the county and not the defendant.

Folks with mental health disorders, the last place they need to be is sitting in jail not getting anything done, not seeing a counselor or perhaps not getting their medication...And too for some nonviolent offenders that could be doing a better job out in the community than sitting behind bars...Judge Stewart.

As of now, the participants for the SCOUT program are being chosen by the court and officials are hoping to keep the program running permanently.

Source: ABC 12

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