By Christian Shire
Alternative sentencing is an option that many courts turn to when seeking punishment for certain crimes.? Often, when the crime is drug related and non-violent, it would actually be more affordable and productive in the long term for both the offender and the community if they had treatment instead of incarceration.? A prison sentence sometimes leaves people just as addicted when they get out as when they got in jail.? The addiction itself is sometimes the real problem and by treating the disease itself and giving the offender skills to deal with it, it is hoped that they will not be in court again.
Non Violent Offenders
In recent years, drug courts specifically designed for nonviolent drug offenders and nonviolent crimes committed by drug users have emerged in all states to help the traditional criminal justice system – a system that is being overwhelmed by relatively minor drug offenses.? Defendants can agree to participate in a drug court program and upon completion may get a reduced sentence or even dismissed charges.
The options offered and mandated by the courts can widely vary depending on the crime, the state, the judge, the defendant’s history and situation.? Typically, courts will offer one or a combination of probation, drug education classes, chemical dependency treatment, house arrest or mandatory drug testing.? There may also be special programs in certain areas for family friendly treatment or supplemental mental health services for co-occurring diagnosis.
Once an offender has been arrested, there are a variety of steps and procedures that they must follow.? Usually, a professional psychological profile for when an offender is indicated or pre-sentencing evaluations used by law firms are necessary.? Courts may have qualified expert witnesses in substance abuse or dependency. Some courts may refer an offender to treatment or one may need to find a state certified treatment program that can provide the proper documentation and support in court.? Some treatment centers have established relationships with courts and can arrange individualized and structured alternative sentencing proposals.
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