Last week Mike Steber became the newest addition to the Pima County Sheriff Department's correctional staff as a jail population coordinator.
His job is to continuously review the jail's roster and case management system to identify individuals currently in jail for non-violent offenses who correctional officials believe, once released, would be unlikely to miss scheduled court appearances, according to a county press release.
Sheriff Mark Napier explained the necessity of the new hire in the release.
"My job is to not only make Pima County a safer place but to also ensure that we are spending taxpayer funds appropriately," said Napier. "Part of achieving both is ensuring that the right people are incarcerated in our jail for the right reasons. This will reduce costs and keep our county safer."
By consulting with the other agencies such as the county's Attorney's Office and public defenders, they can work with inmates who are willing to seek substance abuse or mental illness treatment, or get involved in housing assistance or social services programs. It's all about keeping the jail population as low as possible while still ensuring public safety.
Steber will also keep an eye out for other programs that can serve as a better alternative to being kept in custody.
"We don't want repeat business," PCSD Chief Deputy Byron Gwaltney said in the release. "In my experience, many people do better and are less likely to re-offend if they remain connected to the community and the social services available on the outside."
Steber's hire comes as the latest move by the county to address issues with incarceration. In April 2016, Pima County received a $1.5 million Safety and Justice Challenge Grant
, provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to identify ways to reduce the jail population where necessary. Their goal is to reduce the population by 26 percent from 2014 to this year.