The City of Tucsons Alternative to Jail (ATJ) Program was awarded
the 2011 Judicial Branch Achievement Award in the limited jurisdiction
court category. The ATJ program is a joint venture between the Tucson
City Court and the Tucson Police Department and was developed with the
goal of reducing costs associated with first day booking and subsequent
day jail board costs.
The program involves bringing defendants who are arrested for specific
violations, with or without warrants, to the Tucson City Court for their
initial appearance. Conducting the initial appearance at the Tucson
City Court avoids costs associated with booking the defendant into the
Pima County Jail where they would normally have their initial appearance
while in custody. Defendants meeting the following criteria are
eligible for the ATJ Program:
●All active warrants issued by Tucson City Court.
●Initial charge on non-victim criminal cases such as Drinking in
Public (DIP), Urinating in Public (UIP), City park charges, shop lifting
charges under $250, soliciting in median, and other non-victim cases.
The ATJ program is composed of two programs, Daytime ATJ (DATJ)
sessions and Evening ATJ (EATJ) sessions. The DATJ operates Monday
through Friday during normal court hours and the EATJ operates in the
evening seven days per week. The EATJ hours are from 5:00-9:00 PM except
for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when the EATJ sessions are extended
until 10:00 PM.
In Fiscal Year 2011 2,051 defendants were processed through the ATJ
program and only 68 defendants were held (sent to jail). It is estimated
that in Fiscal Year 2011 the ATJ program avoided $1,071,739 in jail
board costs after expenses. Cost avoidance (savings) for first day jail
board costs are estimated to be $339,745 after expenses and subsequent
day jail board cost avoidance is estimated at $731,994.
Additional cost and time savings are obtained by the Tucson Police
Department through the use of a Prisoner Transport Unit (PTU). The PTU
picks up defendants at certain locations allowing the arresting officer
to immediately return to duty instead of having to transport the
defendant to the Tucson City Court for an ATJ session or the Pima County
Jail where the defendant is booked into the jail.