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What jail alternative programs are available to Iowa defendants?

Being accused of a crime is anything but easy to deal with. Whether it is considered a minor or major offense, it is likely to alter the life of the accused. Because of that, defendants facing criminal charges are better off taking the time to understand their defense options and the strategies they could implement so they stay out of jail.

What jail alternative programs are available to Iowa defendants? In Johnson County, they have initiated a jail alternative program with the goal and mission to provide treatment services to those who have come in contact with the criminal justice system and have mental health issues or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.

In order to be eligible for this program, defendants must meet certain requirements. This includes being at least 18-years-old, voluntarily agreeing to participate in the program, having a mental health disorder, co-occurring disorder, brain injury or another similar diagnosis and legal eligibility. Legal eligibility is based on the conclusions made through the collaboration among the County Attorney, defense attorney, Jail Alternative staff, probation or parole officer and the judge.

The goal of the program is to identify individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues, connect these individuals with community-based agencies and services, provide short-term, intensive case monitoring, provide crisis support and intervention and reduce the number of incarcerated individuals with mental health and co-occurring disorders in the Johnson County jail.

In order to take advantage of jail alternative or diversion programs, defendants should take the time to fully understand these programs and whether they qualify. These programs not only help defendants stay out of jail but they are designed to better participants, giving them a better future.

Source:, "Jail Alternatives Program," accessed Oct. 22, 2017

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