Probation Isn’t Cancelled

Montgomery County Probation Isn’t Cancelled Amongst COVID-19


Court dates in Montgomery County have largely been rescheduled or cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Judges are adapting by using video conferencing applications such as Zoom to address issues related to bond and to take pleas, but downtown Conroe, despite its sizable essential employee status, is a ghost town. This comes as no surprise as Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough extends his stay-at-home order and families cancel birthdays, showers, family reunions, and vacations and replace their party hats with their teacher hats as schools cancel as well. What hasn’t been cancelled though, is Montgomery County probation. Drug testing through Averhealth too has not been cancelled.

Why does that matter? Approximately 60% of criminal cases result in some sort of community supervision. In 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative counted 4.5 million adults per year in the United States on community supervision. About half of the population in county jails are individuals who have violated the conditions of their release.  That’s approximately 350,000 people each year who are jailed for revocations. You’re likely to see a spike in that number as people become more desperate from layoffs, isolation, and pressure from dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 rises. Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has already reported a 35% spike in assault calls.

Community supervision normally challenges many people who may already be struggling with alcohol, substance abuse, anger management and healthy coping mechanisms. Throw in the fact that now we’re to remain at home (probably with family members who stress and trigger us) along with the uncertainty of the future, you have a hornet trapped in a soda can waiting to explode. The good news is that there are still resources available.

TFI Counseling is still offering their Drug Offender Education Program, Anger Management Courses and other counseling services. The groups have no more than six people and they sit at least six feet apart. As Jerry Sumrall, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and founder of TFI Counseling says these issues of domestic violence, addiction, and assault don’t just stop because of a global pandemic.

Other counseling services such as Prevail Counseling and the Mental Health Resource Center (MHRC) in Conroe, Texas have transitioned to remote services. Prevail Counseling is utilizing Teledoc and MHRC is doing online intakes and telephonic counseling. Local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) groups have turned to Zoom for their meetings. AA Intergroup and NA have created lists of national online meetings accessible on their sites.

So, while many events and organizations have been cancelled and probation hasn’t – neither has recovery, hope, or fellowship. Take advantage of these resources or call Matt Neufeld for more information and to discuss how not to be one of the 350,000.

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