What Are the Alternatives to Jail and Prison?
Every single criminal case is different, and so not every single criminal conviction deserves to face time in jail or prison. As society becomes more aware of the shortcomings and negative consequences associated with incarceration, alternatives are gaining recognition. First-time offenders, juvenile offenders, and others that face criminal charges with mitigating factors may be able to qualify for alternatives that will help them get their lives back on track.
One such person who has benefited from alternative sentencing is Shaka Sengho. As a 17 year old drug dealer in 1991, Mr. Senghor shot and killed a man who showed up on his doorstep. At that time there weren’t many alternatives to prison sentences, however he took advantage of certain programs that were available while incarcerated, which were attributed to his rehabilitation and personal growth. As he continued to take advantage of these opportunities, he was released early after serving 19 years of his sentence. Mr. Senghor is now a significant advocate for implementing more alternative sentencing in the American criminal justice system. As seen in Mr. Senghor’s example, offering individuals the ability to educate themselves, reflect, and opportunities to rebuild their lives, society can offer a path for offenders to become productive citizens. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer strongly believe in guiding individuals toward the help they need, along with protecting their rights and future.
What Are Alternative Sentences in Washington?
The state of Washington has taken many steps towards offering alternative sentences, in order to give offenders the ability to serve the community, save money, and reduce recidivism. There are the usual alternatives, such as probation, monitoring, and community service, however the state of Washington has several other programs in place that allow criminals to serve their prison sentences outside of prison.
Diversion Program: A diversion program offers alternative sentencing options to first time non-violent felony and misdemeanor offenders. There are other conditions that are strung along with diversion programs, such as substance abuse testing and treatment, mental health counseling, and domestic violence treatment. Once you complete this program your charges are waived and no further action will be taken by the state.
Work Crew: Managed by the Department of Corrections or a local court, a work crew program works to pick up trash, or rehabilitate parks for the county. It can also include work in farming, reforestation, land clearing, processing of foods in state canneries, or other forms of hard labor.
Community Service: This alternative is also managed by the Department of Corrections, which typically involves volunteering at non-profit organizations. Some examples of such organizations can include churches, food banks, Salvation Army, and many others.
Civil Compromise: Under the civil compromise process, the victim and the defendant negotiate an agreement where the defendant compensates the victim for any harm caused, typically through a monetary payment. In exchange, the victim agrees to drop or dismiss the criminal charges against the defendant. It’s important to note that a civil compromise is only available for misdemeanors that don’t involve domestic violence.
Electronic Home Monitoring: Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) is designed to allow individuals convicted of certain offenses to serve their sentence while being monitored electronically from their residence, rather than being incarcerated in a jail or prison facility.
Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative: In Washington state, the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) is a program designed to provide an alternative sentencing option for individuals convicted of certain sex offenses. The SSOSA program aims to offer treatment and supervision as an alternative to traditional incarceration for eligible individuals.
First Time Offender Waiver: If you qualify for a first time felony waiver, the court has the option of sentencing you to 90 days in jail, and 6 months of community custody. With any type of treatment whether it be drug, mental, or alcohol, there will be 12 months of community custody instead.
Alternative Court Participation (Drug, Mental Health, DUI, Veterans Court): Alternative Court Participation refers to specialized court programs that provide alternative approaches to addressing certain types of cases. These programs are often focused on addressing underlying issues or circumstances that may have contributed to the individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system.
Mental Health Alternative: This program aims to address underlying mental health conditions rather than impose penalties on an individual. Eligibility covers all offenses except violent and sex offenses.
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA): The DOSA initiative is designed so that offenders with a substance abuse disorder can obtain treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation under community supervision in the place of prison time. If you have been convicted of any violent or sex offenses you are not eligible for DOSA.
Family and Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA): This program allows judges to offer an alternative sentence of 12 months of community supervision to parents with minor children. FOSA is often accompanied by other requirements such as treatment.
Community Parenting Alternative(CPA): The CPA is run by the Department of Corrections and is similar to the FOSA in that it is aimed at parents with minor children. It is another partial confinement program that monitors the offender electronically. Both the FOSA and CPA have similar restrictions and eligibility requirements.
How Can We Help You?
The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer strongly believes in getting people the help that they need. In order to get into a diversion program, it often requires a strong case and negotiation with the prosecuting attorney in your case. This process calls for an experienced and skilled attorney in order to bring about the best possible outcome. At the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer our attorneys have the experience and skill necessary to help assist and guide you as you navigate your way through the legal process.
Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 to get your free consultation.