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Criminal Defense

Bellingham now has an alternative to jail time.

A local non-government company is administering the new home detention electronic bracelets used as an alternative to jail, in cooperation with the Bellingham Municipal Court.

City Council approved these new alternatives to jail as a part of their plan to address the overcrowding issues in the Whatcom County Jail.  This program is called the Bellingham Reduced Incarceration Challenge (BRIC) and it was initiated on March 1st of 2026.  People with misdemeanour charges could become eligible to serve their commitments through a non-profit agency named Friendship Diversion Services (FDS).  This company is located at 114 W. Magnolia, Suite 432 (Crown Plaza Building).  Their phone number is 360-392-3981, and they are also providing a similar service throughout the broader state of Washington.

Contract and Services

FDS has entered into a contract with the City of Bellingham and will provide services to law enforcement and various rehabilitation programs. They have jail alternatives that include an Electronic Home Detention (EHD) service and monitoring through devices like Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, or SCRAM.  Once a defendant is considered eligible, and screened for the program GPS technology provides offender monitoring around the clock.

Participants on EHD are required to remain in their residence 24 hours a day unless the court allows them to leave for a particular purpose.  Approved outdoor activities generally include work, school, medical treatment, counseling, probation or parole meetings, appointments and court appearances, attorney meetings and child care requirements.  These are verified by the FDS.

Anyone serving through FDS must meet statutory eligibility criteria, a screening assessment and have a sentence of more than one day.

Fees

Even though there are fees associated with these jail alternatives, the budget is significantly lower than traditional jail and other jail alternatives.  This program is especially helpful for people with medical issues, and other circumstances that make traditional jail inappropriate.  The alternative sentencing program allows people to continue their medical and other rehabilitation programs.

The present costs associated with FDS commitment is as follows:

  • $50 hook-up fee (for ankle bracelet only no GPS)
  • $14.50 per day (When GPS monitoring is required)
  • $25.00 per day (GPS and SCRAM when required)

All defendants will be eligible to apply for financial assistance if FDS finds that they qualify as low-income during the intake screening process. During sentencing, the Court enters a Home Detention Order (HDOR) authorizing the defendant to serve his/her sentence through FDS, if eligible.