New Program Aims To Keep Non-Violent Tulsa County Offenders Out Of Jail
TULSA, Oklahoma - A new program is working to keep non-violent offenders out of jail and on the path to success.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler says his new program will effectively hit the "pause" button for people who are on probation. Instead of issuing an arrest warrant for a technical violation, they'll actually connect people with resources that can help them stay on the right track."
Kunzweiler says he's constantly searching for ways to keep non-violent offenders out of the criminal system.
"We're trying to address that group of people who aren't violent offenders, but they're the people who just keep kind of ringing the bell," said Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.
Kunzweiler says he's partnering up with local non-profits, and even the Public Defender's office, to offer services to people on probation who need a little guidance.
"You're trying to say 'come on, get with the program,'" he said.
"While it might seem odd that we're partners in something like this, the public defender and I both see this as an opportunity to do something positive for our community."
In the past, violators typically had their probation revoked.
"That means issuing a warrant for their arrest, that means putting them in the county jail. That means they stay there until the court case is addressed," the district attorney said.
Instead of issuing a warrant, Kunzweiler says they'll now have help completing things like community service or addiction programs.
"I want you to be out there working, I want you to be out there taking care of your kids," he said.
But Kunzweiler says this opportunity is not for people committing new crimes.
"If they keep repeatedly committing crimes, we're going to be routing them into prison," he said.
Kunzweiler says he's proud to offer another program to help lower incarceration rates, but his first priority will always be to keep the county safe.