Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott is facing a problem familiar to many sheriffs’ departments across the nation: jail overcrowding. There are simply too many inmates and not enough beds. At one point the Missoula County Jail was so overcrowded that it had to transfer inmates to a nearby detention facility to keep inmates from sleeping on the floor. The problem is only getting worse according to assistant commander Barbara Rodrick. The sheriff’s department believes that more can be done than simply transferring inmates to another location or building an additional facility. The sheriff points to jail diversion programs and jail alternatives as a long-term solution. He believes that programs like alcohol monitoring through a secured device such as the SCRAM CAM bracelet are the way to go. He has seen the effectiveness of programs that use this technology in other areas and hopes to see the devices used in Missoula.
Missoula County received an $80,000 grant to study the issue of jail overcrowding and implement changes. McDermott hopes that this will encourage them to move forward and partner with SCRAM distributors for pretrial defendants.