Cass County Board: Programs aimed at reducing recidivism are working, officials say

Cass County Courthouse

BACKUS — Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider and Minnesota Department of Corrections District Supervisor Mark Smith presented their annual reports to Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Feb. 18.

County probation monitors juvenile offenders and misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor adult offenders. Department of Corrections monitors felony adult offenders.

Cass County started a pretrial release program in 2015 ahead of other jurisdictions to screen people arrested here to determine their potential for reoffending and to determine early whether or not they might benefit from release while awaiting trial and from services to help prevent their reoffending.

Schneider and Smith said they believe this is working. The number of people in jail is down and recidivism has been reduced, they reported. Not every person in pretrial status is screened. Not all those screened are released.

Cass County’s probation department screened 384 people in 2019 in the pretrial evaluation program and ranked 190 of those to be potentially high risk to reoffend, 134 at moderate risk and 60 at low risk.


The department referred 22 pretrial people for chemical dependency evaluations, 10 to mental health services, eight for education, nine for employment, six for energy assistance/housing and one for help with transportation needs, Schneider reported.

The largest number of people who had pretrial bail hearings had been charged with drug offenses, followed by a category for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment.

Of the 911 convicted adults county probation monitored for misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offenses in 2019, 499 were for DWI convictions, followed by 109 for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 105 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 68 for disturbing the peace, 42 for drugs, 38 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 25 for theft/property damage/arson/negligent fire, 10 for weapons, eight for criminal vehicular operation, six for underage consumption and one for criminal sexual conduct.

Of the convicted juveniles county probation monitored in 2019, 82 were for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 80 for minor consumption, 53 for theft/property damage, 41 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 34 for disturbing the peace, 32 for drugs, 31 for traffic, 17 for criminal sexual conduct, seven each for burglary and weapons and one each for criminal vehicular operation and homicide.

Department of Corrections probation caseload for convicted felony offenders here included 473 for drugs, 264 for assaults/domestic/harassment, 139 for theft/property damage, 127 for DWI, 106 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 90 for criminal sexual conduct, 64 for burglary, 28 each for disturbing the peace and weapons, 23 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 10 for criminal vehicular operation, three each for homicide and robbery, two for underage consumption and one for kidnapping.

In 2019, Cass County had juveniles on electronic home monitoring for 449 days, down from 932 days in 2018, but adults on home monitoring rose from 3,478 days in 2018 to 4,084 days in 2019.

The county received an $8,000 state subsidy in 2019 to help indigent adults pay for their home monitoring.

Cass County has a diversion program whereby first time juvenile offenders can complete a restorative justice program in lieu of going to court. That program has a 70% success rate for preventing reoffending.


The county’s wellness court for repeat adult DWI offenders since 2006 has had a 13.6% recidivism rate, compared with a 22.4% recidivism rate for those who chose not to participate.

County probation tracks clients for up to three years after release from probation to verify recidivism rates.

Those probation officers had ranked as high risk to reoffend actually had 40% recidivism. Those ranked moderate risk actually had 20% recidivism. Those ranked low risk actually had 16% recidivism. Those ranked very low risk actually had 6% recidivism.

Clients on supervised release that Cass County Probation was monitoring as of Dec. 31, 2019, showed similar recidivism except for the high risk category where there have been 22 re-arrests among the 43 people on probation for a 51% recidivism rate.

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