Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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Hidalgo Co. creates alternative incarceration program

EDINBURG — A new program will allow low-risk offenders currently in the Hidalgo County Jail system to be under house arrest while undergoing rehabilitation will allow the county to address its overcrowding issues.

Recently, Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court voted to approve the program, which will initially target 50 people and have a staff of four. The initiative could help the county save approximately $766,000, 139th District Court Judge Bobby Flores said.

“The Hidalgo County Community Supervision and Correction Department is facing serious fiscal difficulties in the current fiscal year, as well as the upcoming biennium,” said department Director Arnold Patrick in a letter to Judge Ramon Garcia. “In anticipation of these difficulties, we have developed an alternative to incarceration that will allow us to further assist the county and allow the county to assist us, as well.”

The target group is low-risk offenders, offenders in jail awaiting probation hearings and offenders not eligible for personal recognizance bonds.

To qualify, the person would need to have a place to live and a job. Once in the program, program staff will visit them frequently. They’ll be supervised until their completion of their term of the alternative incarceration program.

Under the house arrest program, offenders will be required to check in with county staff daily, have an employment plan, a financial plan and a community service plan. They’ll also be required to have a treatment plan for general counseling or substance abuse counseling. The offenders will be given a curfew that will be monitored and also subjected to urinalysis testing.

A daily itinerary must also be provided to staff, which will include activities and destinations for the day.

Officials asked county leaders to also approve their budget of $189,000, which includes funding for two officers, two security tech staff, funding for transportation and training.

“We’re in full support of the program,” said Sheriff Lupe Treviño. “Anything we can do to reduce our population is welcome.”


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