by Myra Arthur
Young adults arrested for misdemeanors in Bexar County now have the chance to keep a conviction off their record without going to jail.
The office of Bexar County District Attorney, Susan Reed, announced Monday the start of a new diversion program called the Meaningful Intervention Leading to Enduring Success program – or M.I.L.E.S. program.
“They have to qualify in that they’ve never been arrested before, haven’t been in trouble before,” said Reed. “So this is their first time up at bat.”
Adults between the age of 17 and 21 are eligible and will be entered into “pretrial supervision” after they enroll. The length of supervision depends on the type of misdemeanor charge.
During that time, offenders must meet certain criteria – like completing community service, for example.
“Stay out of trouble. If they’re in school, that’s great. They need to keep their grades up,” said Reed. “If they’re working, they need to keep working.”
Essentially living ‘according to the rules’ and being a law-abiding citizen, Reed added.
She expects to see many people enroll in this program who are busted for possessing small amounts of marijuana or criminal mischief.
Not all misdemeanors are eligible. Young adults arrested for driving while intoxicated, family violence or sex crimes cannot enroll in M.I.L.E.S.
The Bexar County DA’s office worked with the Council of State Government Justice Center to develop this program, which Reed estimates could benefit about 2,000 young adults every year.
Reed believes the program could deter first time offenders from committing future crimes and data on those enrolled will be tracked online to reflect whether that impact is seen.
The Center for Health Care Services is also working with the M.I.L.E.S program to provide drug counseling or mental health services to participants who are in need.
“It’s necessary because there are kids out there who do stupid things,” Reed said of the diversion program.
The program’s purpose, Reed added, is to deter future crime and keep small offenses from ruining futures.
“So it truly is someone who makes a dumb mistake. It truly is their first time making the mistake and maybe they can get on with their life in a successful manner,” Reed said.
Offenders must enroll in the program online within 60 days of their booking. They must pay $50 to enroll and an additional fee limited to $500 to cover the cost of pretrial supervision.
Offenders must pay restitution if it applies to their case.