Many people believe that jails and prisons serve to rehabilitate and punish criminal offenders for wrongdoing; however, this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, inmates don’t usually receive the guidance and services they need to start a new life after serving time for their mistakes. Without counseling to tackle addiction, anger, and other health issues and job training, offenders tend to return to a life of crime soon after their release. Some offenders even wind up more hardened criminals, with fresh ideas for new crimes.
Recidivism has become such a problem that many of Florida’s jails and prisons are overpopulated, making matters worse for prisoners and guards. When prisons and jails get too full, it takes a toll on everybody’s mental and physical health and provokes violence among inmates. When there are too many inmates in jails and prisons, it also increases competition for programs that can help offenders reintegrate into society.
Fortunately, Florida courts have adopted alternative sentencing programs. Alternative sentencing programs cover various methods the court can use to keep offenders out of jails and prisons. These programs focus on rehabilitating offenders and providing them with a second chance. Alternative sentences involve court supervision and mitigate the impact of a criminal sentence on an offender’s future. If you’re a first time or nonviolent criminal offender, you may be eligible for an alternative sentencing program.
What are the Different Types of Alternative Sentencing Programs?
There are programs available for many types of offenders. Generally, these programs accept nonviolent and first-time offenders. There are also juvenile programs to keep underage offenders at home and in school. All of these programs share a common goal: rehabilitation.
Florida Drug Court
Drug court is a prime solution for nonviolent drug offenders. With Florida’s pervasive drug problems, a large portion of people in jails and prisons are in for drug crimes. By sentencing some offenders to drug court, it frees up resources for those who are incarcerated.
In drug court, a person may be required to complete probation and/or participate in rehab. Ideally, offenders work through their addiction to help them stay drug-free after their sentence. Drug court is particularly effective for younger offenders who have long lives ahead of them.
Electronic Monitoring in Florida
Judges often resort to electronic monitoring when keeping nonviolent offenders out of jails and prisons. Offenders must wear a GPS-enabled device that keeps track of their whereabouts at all times, essentially keeping them within certain boundaries based on what the court deems appropriate. Typically, courts do permit offenders to travel to and from school, work, and a small radius outside their homes. Electronic monitoring may also be an option for offenders who display good behavior in jail or prison.
Alcohol Monitoring with SCRAM Bracelets
Alcohol monitoring — like electronic monitoring — tracks a person’s movements. People who have been convicted of alcohol offenses may be sentenced to wear a SCRAM bracelet that tracks their location and alcohol intake as part of their probation. SCRAM bracelets also detect the wearer’s alcohol consumption. These bracelets contain fuel sensors that rest on the skin and measure alcohol concentration with a person’s sweat throughout the day. If you’re convicted of DUI, you may be ordered to wear one of these devices at your expense.
Like SCRAM bracelets, judges may also order alcohol offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles to keep them from drinking and driving while on probation. IIDs require users to breathe into them before starting their cars. Without a clean breath sample, drivers cannot operate their vehicles.
How Alternative Sentencing Helps Society
The United States is known for having the highest rate of incarceration in the world. By taking a different approach to fighting crime, such as by saving institutions for the most detrimental offenders, it’s possible to reduce the prison population.
These alternative sentences keep offenders out of jails and prisons show promising benefits for society, including:
- Keeping jail and prison populations manageable
- Reducing the likelihood of offenders re-offending
- Encouraging people to confront their personal problems
Can I Get an Alternative Sentence in West Palm Beach?
With the help of a determined criminal defense lawyer, it may be possible to participate in one of these programs if you’re convicted of a nonviolent crime in Florida. Talk to attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to find out what you need to know about receiving an alternative sentence.
For a free case review, call 561-622-5575 or complete a contact form.