Cass County Board: Pretrial, diversion programs help reduce recidivism rates in county

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

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

WALKER — Cass County’s pretrial program, started eight years ago, continues to monitor hundreds of defendants' likelihood of reoffending while awaiting trial.

The program, along with other diversion programs, is working, county officials said, with recidivism rates falling in the past three years.

Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider and Minnesota Department of Corrections District Supervisor Mark Smith presented their annual reports to Cass County commissioners at the Tuesday, March 7, regular board meeting.

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

Cass County’s probation department screened 426 people in 2022 in the pretrial evaluation program and ranked 191 of those to be potentially high risk to reoffend, 135 at moderate risk and 100 at low risk.


The department completed referrals on 77 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 had been charged with drug offenses, followed by a category for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment.

Of the 1,208 convicted adults the county probation monitored for misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offenses in 2022, 540 were for driving while intoxicated convictions, followed by 182 for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 173 for drugs, 85 for theft/property damage/arson/negligent fire, 80 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 62 for disturbing the peace, 53 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, nine for underage consumption, eight each for criminal vehicular operation and burglary, seven for weapons and one for criminal sexual contact.

Of the 331 convicted juveniles county probation monitored in 2022, 85 for minor consumption, 63 were for disturbing the peace, 45 for assaultive behavior/domestic/harassment, 34 for drugs, 27 each for theft/property damage and traffic, 23 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 11 for weapons, eight for burglary, three each for DWI and criminal vehicular operation and two for criminal sexual conduct.

Cass County has a diversion program where first time juvenile offenders can complete a restorative justice program in lieu of going to court. That program has had 35 juveniles successfully complete the program between the years 2020 through 2022, with one of the 35 being adjudicated for a new offense, a 97% success rate.

The county’s wellness court for repeat adult driving while intoxicated offenders since 2006 has had a 13.6% recidivism rate, compared with a 31% recidivism rate for those who chose not to participate or failed to complete the program. Cass County received $102,530 during 2022 to assist in the cost of the operations for the wellness court.

In 2022, Cass County juveniles on electronic home monitoring rose from 369 days in 2021 to 944 days in 2022, with adults on home monitoring also rising from 4,454 days in 2021 to 5,135 days in 2022.

County probation tracks clients for up to three years after release from probation to verify recidivism rates. The recidivism rates for the years 2020-2022 have all been reduced except for those at a very low level.


The clients probation officers ranked as high risk to reoffend were at a 42% recidivism. Those ranked moderate risk actually had 23% recidivism. Those ranked low risk actually had 11% recidivism. Those ranked very low risk actually had 9% recidivism.

Department of Corrections probation caseload for convicted felony offenders during 2022 included 588 for drugs, 314 for assaults/domestic/harassment, 230 for driving while intoxicated, 193 for theft/property damage, 121 for obstructing the legal process/falsely reporting crime/fleeing peace officer, 74 for burglary, 71 for criminal sexual conduct, 44 for disturbing the peace, 43 for weapons, 32 for driving after cancellation/no insurance/traffic, 12 for homicide, 10 for criminal vehicular operation, three for robbery and one each for kidnapping and underage consumption/miscellaneous.

For the complete annual reports from probation and the Department of Corrections, go to .

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