Drug addiction often leads to criminal charges when individuals engage in illegal activity to support their habit, but being sentenced with jail or prison time won’t provide the treatment needed to overcome addiction. Alternative sentencing is far more effective and offers many benefits.
What Is Alternative Sentencing?
Alternative sentencing recognizes that substance addiction is a chronic disease. It’s also aware of the fact that jail isn’t necessarily the most effective or only way to help someone overcome addiction or stop criminal behavior.
Drug courts hear alternative sentencing cases. Rehabilitation is favored over incarceration in these courts, and addiction treatment options and criminal justice are combined through collaboration between the court, the defendant, and their prosecutor.
Alternative Sentencing Benefits
Alternative sentencing benefits the person, their community, and much more.
Reduced Negative Effects
The jail experience can negatively affect a person’s mind, emotions, and body. Unfortunately, these effects don’t end when their sentence is over.
A few of the many challenges a person may have to face after release can be transitioning to civilian life, finding a job, and facing negative reactions from the community. Alternative sentencing keeps individuals in their communities, where they can participate in society and family life.
Safe Addiction Treatment
Although today’s jails and other facilities are aware that drug addiction is a chronic disease, they just don’t have the resources or equipment to offer safe detox or provide addiction treatment programs.
Alternative sentencing ensures that individuals receive safe addiction treatment and the right support from those who specialize in addiction and mental health.
Lower Community Cost and Likelihood of Reoffending
Communities benefit from alternative sentencing in more than one way. By sending a person into an addiction treatment facility, the community and state will pay far less than if they went to jail.
The chances that a person will return to criminal activity have also been proven to be a lot lower when they receive addiction treatment instead of a jail sentence.
More Targeted Use of Prison Space
By diverting an eligible individual from a jail to an addiction treatment center, more prison space is available. This allows more room for those sentenced with violent crimes instead of non-violent offenders.
Also, because alternative sentencing takes place in drug court and not criminal court, it also relieves overcrowding in the criminal court system.
Increases Chances of Successful Recovery
Going to jail punishes a person for their crime, but, in alternative sentencing programs, that person receives treatment for their addiction and learns important life skills.
They also build their self-esteem and are able to, once again, have a sense of purpose. All of these greatly increase the chance of successful and lifelong recovery.
Are You Eligible for Alternative Sentencing?
In order to be eligible to enter an alternative sentencing program, you must:
- Not have a criminal record
- Have committed a non-violent crime
- Demonstrate that you are dedicated to getting sober
- Show that you would benefit from an addiction treatment program
- Have your mental health evaluated
If you meet this criteria, you may be offered one or more of the following.
Forms of Alternative Sentencing
Types of alternative sentencing include a suspended sentence, restitution or fines, probation, diversion program, or community service.
A suspended sentence is the term used when a judge doesn’t hand down or carry out a sentence they’ve decided on.
In alternative sentencing, a suspended sentence will typically be conditional. This means that a person will be required to meet the condition of entering an addiction treatment program so they can avoid being sentenced.
Restitution and fines are financial penalties that can be ordered by a judge, in combination with other alternative sentencing options like addiction treatment, as requirements for avoiding jail time.
Probation is another form of conditional sentencing that may combine the requirement for supervision and probation officer meetings with mandatory participation in an addiction or mental health rehabilitation program.
Diversion programs allow an individual to be removed from the prosecution process so they can meet conditions that have been handed down by a judge. Following the meeting of these conditions, the individual returns to court and receives a dismissal of their charges.
These programs are usually combined with probation, addiction program, or counseling and give a person the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to behave in a responsible and healthy manner.
Community service requires an individual to work in the community in exchange for a reduced sentence or lower fine. This provides a learning experience for the individual, and the work they do benefits their community directly.
Alternative sentencing often combines community service with required participation in an addiction treatment or mental health program.
Find Hope and Healing at Dedicato Treatment Center
Alternative sentencing gives people the opportunity to receive complete addiction and mental health treatment and return to a healthy and fulfilling life.
At Dedicato Treatment Center, we’ve worked with individuals who want treatment instead of jail time and those who have been recommended by criminal defense attorneys as part of their alternative sentencing.
Our team has the experience needed to help first-time offenders obtain the addiction treatment they need and help them meet the requirements of their sentence. All the treatment plans and strategies we develop are tailored to your unique needs. As well, these plans and strategies can be presented in court to benefit your case.
Our holistic programs treat the root causes of addiction, and our detox, residential, and intensive outpatient treatment programs help clients achieve a new and healthy life. Invest in your future; call Dedicato Treatment Center today: 626-921-0113.