Friendship Diversion moves into Clallam Courthouse

PORT ANGELES — Friendship Diversion Services has moved into the Clallam County Courthouse.

County commissioners Tuesday renewed a personal services agreement with the Olympia-based agency.

As part of the agreement, Friendship Diversion moved Thursday from its small office on East Eighth Street to Room 059 in the basement of the courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

“It’s my feeling that they will be that much more more efficient if they’re actually located in the courthouse,” Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict told commissioners in a Nov. 21 work session.

“They run probation services, they run electronic home monitoring and diversion services.”

Friendship Diversion’s old Port Angeles office was at 522 E. Eighth St.

Friendship Diversion provides supervised alternatives to jail and collects fees from defendants.

It has offices in Clallam, Jefferson, Thurston, Mason, Grant, Lewis, Okanogan, Pierce and Spokane counties and several cities, according to its website, www.friendshipdiversion.org.

The renewed personal services agreement is “budget-neutral” for Clallam County, Benedict said.

The county will provide internet service to Friendship Diversion, as it does for outside attorneys, under the two-year renewal.

“They will be responsible for their own phone and additional expenses, but we will provide internet,” County Administrator Jim Jones said. “It costs us nothing extra to do that.”

Having Friendship Diversion in the courthouse is defined in the agreement as a “valuable consideration.”

“It improves, we think, the value of the service they’re providing,” Jones said.

Without Friendship Diversion, Benedict said, he would likely hire a full-time employee to run an in-house electronic home monitoring program or deal with overcrowding in the jail.

“It is much more efficient to run this [program] through a third party,” Benedict said.

After Tuesday’s unanimous vote, Benedict thanked the prosecuting attorney’s office for developing a “model contract” and other county officials for an “incredibly quick turnaround for what is usually the slow speed of government” to facilitate the move.

Said Commissioner Mark Ozias: “This is both an improvement in terms of efficiency, and particularly in terms of customer service for some of the people who need it the most.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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