What the Experts Want You to Know About Alternative Sentencing

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Alternative sentencing programs around the country provide eligible defendants with less restrictive and more productive environments for rehabilitation. Sometimes called Diversion Programs, they allow individuals to enter drug rehab facilities, undergo mental health treatment, experience house arrest with electronic monitoring, or perform community service.

These alternatives help reduce prison overcrowding, save taxpayer money, and often help reduce repeat offenses. Who is eligible for these programs and what is required of participants looking to avoid jail or prison time and move forward to a better way of life?

The Basics of Alternative Sentencing

Programs vary by state, but most share some basic requirements. Often they are part of plea agreements, where an individual pleads guilty and their criminal defense attorney asks for a less restrictive sentence.

The judge will consider these factors:

  • The type of court which has jurisdiction over the case: This will determine which state or federal criminal laws apply and what options the judge has for sentencing.
  • The nature of the crime: Drug offenses and non-violent crimes are more likely to be eligible for alternative sentences.
  • Past behavior, including previous convictions: In some states, only first-time offenders are eligible.
  • Considerations of: Public safety, flight risk, and which alternative drug rehab programs or mental health facilities are available.

What Types of Alternative Sentencing Are Available?

These options are typically considered in alternative sentencing programs:

  • Suspended sentence, where jail time or fines may be specifically defined but then held in suspension. This judgment may be based on remorse or extenuating circumstances and may contain conditions that must be met to prevent the sentence from being carried out.
  • Probation, which is similar to a suspended sentence, requiring regular meetings with a probation officer and supervision until the probation period is over. Terms of probation may restrict activities or require participation in mental health or addiction treatment programs.
  • Fines or restitution, where the penalty is financial. These are also often included in probation time or diversion programs as a condition of avoiding incarceration.
  • Community service, where the individual spends a prescribed amount of time working in a non-profit or community-benefiting capacity rather than sitting in a jail cell.
  • Pre-trial or post-trial diversion programs, which offer individuals the chance to complete a substance abuse program, cognitive behavioral therapy, or another mental health treatment program as a condition of avoiding jail or prison.

Treating The Causes of Crime

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These are innovative programs that result in reduced rates of repeat offenses, especially for young people. When drugs or alcohol are contributing factors or the reason for an arrest, it can be a sign that substance abuse has reached the level of addiction, and alternative drug rehab may be the best “penalty” for both the individual and society.

Entering residential or intensive outpatient therapy empowers individuals to break free from the grip of addictive substances and go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives after a brush with the law. At Dedicato Treatment Center, we offer clinically managed care with accredited and compassionate staff on hand to provide the supervision and support needed for true rehabilitation. Contact us today to investigate the options available to you or a loved one.