MISSOULA, Mont. - In 2011, Missoula Correctional Services and the Missoula County Sheriff's Office said no way to the cost of the 24/7 Sobriety Program. Instead, Missoula came up with its own program called the Sobriety and Accountability program.
On Monday, Attorney General Tim Fox asked Missoula County to join the state's 24/7 sobriety program. However, Missoula Correctional Services did not jump on the idea right away. According to Executive Director of the Missoula Correctional Center Sue Wilkins, Missoula's program is tailored to the county.
"We were working and trying to do the 24/7 program but finally realized it was better locally to do a few things differently," said Wilkins.
There are similarities between the county and the state's programs. They both can be mandated pre-trial or post-conviction, but the defendant is expected to pay for the program. However, in Missoula, Wilkins said the program is available to everyone regardless if they can pay.
There is a catch. The Supreme Court will decide if the 24/7 program is constitutional. That's an issue of whether it's legal to force someone to pay before they are convicted. The decision will impact Missoula's program.
"The courts have always been able to order a pre-trial release condition to have somebody tested. That's been in statute before the 24/7 program ever came into existence. That's the statue that we've been operating all of our programs under and so I think we're fine," said Wilkins.
Once ordered by a judge, the program requires a defendant to go to the center one to two times a day to blow into a portable breath tester.
Missoula officials will keep a close eye on the Supreme Court ruling because the program could change depending on the court's decision.
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