New Volusia County jail diversion program for misdemeanor violators

New Volusia County jail diversion program for misdemeanor violators

DAYTONA BEACH — For decades, there have been petty offense lawbreakers doing laps around Volusia County’s legal system. They circle from the streets to courtrooms to jail and back to the streets again.

In 2013, Volusia County Judge Belle Schumann crunched some numbers and found 50 people had been arrested more than 6,100 times at a cost of more than $12 million.

Eight years later, Daytona Beach has a comprehensive homeless shelter for adults that’s helping some serial offenders get off the streets and out of jail for good.

But some local law enforcement officials say the revolving door at the jail is still spinning, and they hope a new pilot program will show it can help break the cycle.

It’s called the SMART program, an acronym for State attorney’s Mission to Assist thriving Rehabilitation and Treatment. The six-month program is targeting people accused of repeated non-violent misdemeanors and giving them a chance to have the charges against them dropped if they agree to follow a plan aimed at addressing the root causes of their problems.

For some people, that means getting substance abuse treatment and living in a sober house. For others there’s a focus on getting help for a mental health problem. Some are veterans who can be connected with federal assistance programs.

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