Beginning September 23, 2013, young adults in Bexar County arrested for the first time for a misdemeanor offense will have an opportunity to avoid a conviction on their record. The program, announced today by Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Susan D. Reed, is named the M.I.L.E.S. program an acronym for "Meaningful Intervention Leading to Enduring Success". The program name is a tribute to Ed Miles, Jr., who served as the Director of Community Projects for the District Attorney's Office. He was known for directing his energies to divert young adults from a path of crime.
Young adults, ages 17 to 21, without a prior arrest record and facing a misdemeanor charge may be eligible for the program, which suspends a court appearance and instead places the individual under short-term pretrial supervision. Upon successful completion of supervision, criminal charges are dismissed. Participants must still pay restitution if applicable as well as an application fee of $50 and a program fee. Individuals charged with misdemeanors involving family violence, driving while intoxicated or most sexual offenses do not qualify for the program.
District Attorney Reed says her goal is "to provide flexibility to correct the behavior of young adults leading to an arrest, maintain public safety, and preserve military, employment, and education opportunities by keeping the youth from having a conviction record." She hopes that a large number of young adults take this opportunity. She also believes the program will result in swifter resolution and avoid cases lingering for years. Application into the program must occur within 60 days of the defendant's booking.
"We are working closely with Judge Reed's office," says Mike Lozito, Director of the Judicial Services Office for Bexar County. "We hope to encourage young adults involved in the program to comply with the reporting rules but also participate in mental health or substance abuse services if they need to. We hope this will prevent them from coming back."
"The Center for Health Care Services stands ready to assist in this extremely worthwhile initiative. Our trained staff finds great value in helping young
District Attorney Reed consulted with Dr. Tony Fabelo, Director of Research at the Council of State Government Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), in designing the program. Dr. Fabelo previously worked in Bexar County helping it modernize its probation system and it is presently working with county officials to improve pretrial services. "Based on our research, we estimate about 2,000 young adults yearly can benefit from this program," says Dr. Fabelo. "We will monitor the program to make sure it effectively implemented." The CSG Justice Center's work has been supported by Bexar County and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, which was approached by county officials to support an examination of pretrial practices and jail-diversion services for mentally ill defendants.
Program details, including qualifications and application forms, can be found on the District Attorney's website at: http://www.bexar.org/DA. The web-based application process is designed to make application simple and encourage participation in the program.