Yet another award has come to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office from a national organization.

County Attorney Kirsten Pabst described the honor to KGVO News on Wednesday.

“Our Calibrate Program, which is our prosecution led pre-trial diversion program just won a national award from NACo, The National Association of Counties,” said Pabst. “It was recognized as one of those government programs in that it's an achievement award that basically says that you've got a program that is really worth repeating.”

Pabst described the purpose of the program.

“It is Montana's first formal prosecution-led pre-trial diversion program,” she said. “What that means is that we are recognizing that one size does not fit all for corrections and prosecution, so what we're doing with this particular program is identifying low risk individuals as early as possible in the criminal justice process and giving them an opportunity to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction by complying with a treatment plan that's designed to get them back on the right track.”

Pabst said one aspect of the program involves saving taxpayers’ money.

“We were looking at ways that we could better spend criminal justice dollars,” she said. “One of the things that we found in our research was that if you can invest some of those precious criminal justice dollars early on to folks who don't have such high needs and are not set to high risk, then you end up improving the recidivism rates in both that group and in the high risk offenders, because then you can divert some of those resources.”

Pabst provided some numbers achieved by the Calibrate Program.

“I think they were really impressed with not just the resources that we saved, but the number of successful participants,” she said. “We had more than twice the number of enrollees in our first full year which was 2020, and during that time, we collected over $20,000 in restitution for victims, and we saved 7564 days of time that folks would have been on some other program. So when you look at the big picture it we're not only helping people get back on the right track, but we're also saving a lot of criminal justice dollars.”

In 2017 the Missoula County Attorney’s Office received to national awards for its work in addressing Secondary Trauma and Organizational Resilience in prosecution. That program has also been adopted throughout the U.S.

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