Cass County Board: Diversion programs are working in Cass County

Cass County started a pretrial release program in 2015 and has been receiving $100,000 annually for the past seven years which allows the county to hire a probation officer and grant evaluator.

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Brainerd Dispatch

BACKUS — Pretrial diversion programs paid dividends in Cass County, probation officials reported.

Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider and Minnesota Department of Corrections District Supervisor Mark Smith gave annual reports Tuesday, April 19, to the Cass County Board.

Cass County started a pretrial release program in 2015 and has been receiving $100,000 annually for the past seven years, which allows the county to hire a probation officer and grant evaluator. The goals of this program are to facilitate defendant’s pretrial release using evidence-based practices, reduction in non-compliant behaviors and facilitate need-based services.

Cass County’s probation department screened 456 people in 2021 in the pretrial evaluation program and ranked 203 of those to be potentially high risk to reoffend, 153 at moderate risk and 100 at low risk. The department completed referrals on 44 pretrial people who were willing to address their chemical dependency issues and continue to encourage people to address their mental health, education, employment, housing and transportation barriers, Schneider reported.

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


By the numbersOf the 635 convicted adults county probation monitored for misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offenses in 2021:

  • 317 were for DWI convictions, 
  • 99 for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 
  • 85 for drugs (due to Cass County taking over supervision of all gross misdemeanor cases previously supervised by the Minnesota Department of Corrections), 
  • 37 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 
  • 34 for disturbing the peace, 
  • 26 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 
  • 20 for theft/property damage/arson/negligent fire, 
  • 12 for criminal vehicular operation, 
  • four for underage consumption,
  • one for weapons.

Of the 326 convicted juveniles county probation monitored in 2021:

  • 62 were for disturbing the peace,
  • 49 for minor consumption, 
  • 47 for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 
  • 37 for theft/property damage, 
  • 34 for traffic, 
  • 30 for drugs, 
  • 28 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 
  • 14 for burglary, 
  • 12 for weapons, 
  • four for criminal sexual conduct, 
  • three each for DWI and homicide and, 
  • one each for criminal vehicular operation, arson/negligent fire and robbery.

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 had 53 juveniles successfully complete the program between from 2019 through 2021, with five of the 53 being adjudicated for a new offense, a 90% success rate.
The county’s wellness court for repeat adult DWI offenders since 2006 had a 13.7% recidivism rate, compared with a 34% recidivism rate for those who chose not to participate or failed to complete the program. Cass County received $102,530 during 2021 to assist in the cost of the operations for the wellness court.

In 2021, Cass County had juveniles on electronic home monitoring for 369 days, down from 600 days in 2020, but adults on home monitoring rose from 3,651 days in 2020 to 4,454 days in 2021.

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

People ranked as high risk to reoffend by the probation officers actually had a 57% recidivism. Those ranked moderate risk had 27% recidivism. Those ranked low risk had 18% recidivism. Those ranked very low risk had 3% recidivism.

Clients on supervised release monitored by Cass County Probation as of Dec. 31, 2021, showed lower recidivism except for the very low risk category where there were two re-arrests among the 26 people on probation for a 7% recidivism rate.

Department of Corrections probation caseload for convicted felony offenders during 2021 included 590 for drugs, 328 for assaults/domestic/harassment, 199 for DWI, 178 for theft/property damage, 146 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 85 for criminal sexual conduct, 84 for burglary, 66 for disturbing the peace, 60 for weapons, 40 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 16 for criminal vehicular operation, six for homicide, four for robbery, three for kidnapping and one for underage consumption/miscellaneous.


Schneider and Smith also presented a short video pn the Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections’ approach to probation, which can be viewed at .

For the complete Probation and Department of Correction Annual Reports go to .

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