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NO-BARS program could reduce jail population, state costs

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FREMONT, OH (Toledo News Now) -

For some people, it's just a court-ordered sentence For others, it's a second chance at life. Regardless of the reason, NO-BARS is changing lives in Fremont.

Last November, Sandusky County started a new program called Northwest Ohio Behavior And Reporting Service, which gives offenders the option to right their wrongs instead of serving time behind bars.

"A lot of people are defensive when they come into our office. They automatically assume that we're out to get them," said Daniel Sanchez, chief probation officer with the Fremont Municipal Court.

It's the 90-day mark for a program that's giving alcoholics, drug addicts and domestic violence offenders a second chance. To date, Fremont Municipal Court has referred more than 60 people to NO-BARS.

"Judge [Robert] Hart has been very proactive with the program, and I think with the program, it gives the offenders accountability. It allows them to show a proven track record by random drug testing, showing up on time for their appointments..." explained Sanchez.

So far, several people with alcohol-related offenses have completed the program and successfully avoided jail time. The rest of the trial class is still getting treatment.

Only a couple of offenders have not complied with the program's rules. Those who don't go to class must face their probation officer, and likely jail time.

"It's hard to say what happens to an offender after they walk out the door. There's no extended monitoring after that, but I certainly like to think that we made a great improvement in that individual's life. It's a good feeling to know that we're helping somebody," said Jarrett Roesch, program coordinator for NO-BARS.

Everything from anger management classes, mental health evaluations, and random drug testing is offered at NO-BARS. Officials say in the long run, this could be the answer to decreasing local jail populations and saving money for the state.

Currently, NO-BARS is only offered to offenders referred by the court.

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