Justice Reinvestment Initiative

In 2017, the Montana Legislature passed a package of bills that reformed Big Sky Country’s criminal justice system.  The goals were to reduce future costs to state and local taxpayers and improve outcomes for individuals in the system while maintaining public safety in our communities. 

The main policy goals of the 2017 Justice Reinvestment suite of bills were: 

  • To reduce jail populations in Montana 
  • Improve effectiveness of incarceration 
  • Support offenders in the community 

SB59 (Wolken) 

  • Create a pretrial program – Office of Court Administrator 
  • Create prosecution diversion grant program – Montana Board of Crime Control 
  • Establish Criminal Justice Oversight Committee – DOC 
  • Report on criminal justice reinvestment impacts – DOC 
  • Adopt a program evaluation tool, conduct evaluations – DOC 
  • Adopt an incentives, interventions grid to guide community supervision of offenders – DOC 


  • Revised presentence investigation laws to expedite presentence investigations and use of evidence-based practices in sentencing – DOC 


  • Certification of peer support specialists – increase the capacity of behavioral health care providers by certifying behavioral health peer support specialists – behavioral health providers 


  • Revised processes for supervising offenders in the community using sanctions and focusing probation resources on offenders who pose the highest risk of reoffending – DOC 


  • Established a professional parole board and instituted structured parole guidelines – DOC


  • Increased access to housing for offenders returning to communities after incarceration by allowing the DOC to provide housing assistance, and creating a supportive grant program to be administered by the Montana Board of Crime Control – DOC, Montana Board of Crime Control  


  • Improved quality and quantity of services provided by domestic violence intervention programs through funding from the Montana Board of Crime Control to courts – Montana Board of Crime Control, courts 


  • Reduced penalties for some nonviolent offenses to allow additional use of pretrial services and deferred prosecution programs – Montana law enforcement, courts 
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