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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

Richman Law Office LLC June 20, 2022

Man in handcuffSometimes, good people get crosswise with the law because they have a substance abuse problem or a mental illness. Serving time in jail for a drug or DUI conviction may be the prescribed punishment, but it doesn’t always help you change your life to avoid future arrests.

For certain offenders in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, there may be alternatives to going to jail. Alternative programs are not a get-out-of-jail-free card. They take work to be successful, but that work may be far more beneficial than incarceration.

Before I became a criminal defense attorney, I was a prosecuting attorney. I understand the benefits those charged with certain crimes can achieve with alternative sentencing. If you want to find out more about your eligibility, call Richman Law Office LLC.

What Is Alternative Sentencing?

Sentences for convictions of certain crimes often involve incarceration. Alternative sentencing offers ways to replace time in jail with other methods of punishment and rehabilitation.

The benefits of alternative sentencing reach nearly everyone touched by an arrest or conviction. That includes the offenders, their families, employers, communities, and the criminal justice system as a whole. Offenders can get drug or alcohol treatment instead of jail time, which could save them from reoffending later. Offenders can maintain employment which helps them continue to support themselves and their families. The overwhelming tax burden of incarceration is lifted, and local nonprofit organizations benefit from offenders doing community service instead of spending time in jail.

There are several sentencing alternatives, including diversion, house arrest, community service, and probation. Not every offender qualifies for these programs, but if you do, it may be one way to pay the penalty of breaking the law without living behind bars.

What Is Diversion?

Diversion programs divert offenders from jail and into programs that may keep them from abusing drugs or alcohol in the future. These programs may also keep certain populations, such as juvenile offenders or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illnesses, out of jail and enable them to receive appropriate intervention treatment instead.

In Kansas, the therapeutic community diversion program offers residential substance abuse treatment, a work-release program to maintain employment, and adult residential care which provides treatment and training to help offenders successfully transition back into society in order to decrease recidivism.

Missouri provides drug courts, DWI drug courts, and mental health courts. The state also has a re-entry court, similar to the Kansas adult residential care concept. 

These diversion programs are designed for nonviolent and first offenders. Those who violate probation due to substance abuse issues may also qualify.

What Is House Arrest?

House arrest does two key things. First, it keeps offenders out of prison cells and prevents costing taxpayers the expense of supporting them for the duration of their sentences. Second, it allows offenders to continue working, supporting themselves and their families, and living as tax-paying citizens.

Those under house arrest are heavily monitored. They must check in regularly and are allowed the freedom of movement only to and from work, educational and vocational training, treatment programs, court, medical appointments, and other essential activities.

In Kansas, house arrest limits an offender’s mobility while requiring them to participate in programs designed to change negative behaviors. House arrest may be an option in Missouri for those serving sentences for nonviolent felonies who are near qualifying for probation or parole consideration. 

What Is Community Service?

Community service may be ordered as part of an offender’s conviction punishment, usually for first-time and nonviolent offenders. The court may order the offender to serve a certain number of hours volunteering for a nonprofit organization in the community.

Community service hours may be ordered in lieu of jail time or in some cases, in lieu of victim compensation funds. It is often ordered in conjunction with treatment programs and other measures intended to help offenders not commit crimes in the future.

What Is Probation?

Probation is spending all or a portion of the time an offender might normally be incarcerated in a highly-supervised accountability program instead.  

Probation requires successful compliance with certain terms and conditions, which usually include abstaining from drug and alcohol use, completing treatment programs and counseling, and attending regular check-ins with a probation officer. Offenders on probation typically must also comply with random drug and alcohol testing. Violating the terms of probation can put the offender in jail.

Reach Out for Skilled Advocacy

Alternatives to incarceration are not just about dealing with overcrowded jails. They are designed to give nonviolent offenders, especially those with health and addiction issues, the opportunity to correct behaviors that led to their arrest. At Richman Law Office LLC, I believe in second chances and work with prosecuting attorneys and the court to obtain them for my clients.

If you are interested in pursuing alternative sentencing in Kansas City, Kansas, or Missouri, call my office today.