We’ve talked about alternatives to standard criminal sentences on this blog many times in the past. Instead of sending a person to jail, we’ve explored how options like probation, drug courts, substance abuse counseling, home monitoring, diversion programs and work release options can actually do more good for the offender and the community. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the benefits of these alternative forms of sentencing in Minnesota.
Why Alternative Sentencing Can Be A Great Option
In most cases, an individual convicted of a crime would rather be sentenced to any of the above alternative options as opposed to being sentenced to jail, so one clear benefit of these alternative sentences is that the offender doesn’t have to be confined to a jail cell for an extended period. However, in order for alternative sentences to be considered, they also need to benefit the community. If giving an offender an alternative sentence would put the community at risk, it won’t be considered. Here’s a look at some of the ways the general public can benefit from alternative forms of criminal sentencing.
Focus On Rehabilitation – While punishment is an important part of sentencing, so too is making sure the individual gets the help they need to overcome the issue that led to their crime. Whether that involves drug abuse counseling or a victim impact panel to discuss the real-life impact of drunk driving, alternative sentencing options tend to be more rehabilitative than jail.
Reduces Recidivism – Similarly, research has found that alternative sentencing options typically help to prevent recidivism for certain crimes. People are less likely to reoffend when they get the help they need to overcome their issues, and the community benefits when recidivism rates drop as a result of alternative forms of sentencing.
Offender Foots The Bill – Oftentimes the offender foots the bill for these alternative sentencing options, like counseling, home monitoring or ignition interlock devices. When a person is housed in jail, it’s on the taxpayer’s dime. Alternative forms of sentencing reduce the financial burden on taxpayers.
Reduces Jail Overcrowding – Pursuing alternative forms of sentencing can reduce overcrowding in jails across Minnesota. When jails are overcrowded and understaffed, problems are more likely to occur, so alternative forms of sentencing can help keep the jail population at a manageable level.
Only For Certain Offenders – As we mentioned above, not all offenders will qualify for alternative sentencing options. Only low-level offenders who are not a risk to the community will be considered, and they will still have strict rules to follow in these programs. Alternative options will not be considered for violent, sexually-motivated crimes or felonies, so the community is not put at risk by allowing qualified offenders to be considered for these alternative options.
Offender Reintegration – Sometimes reintegrating into the community can be difficult for offenders who have been in jail for a while, and that can increase their risk of future criminal activities. Offenders remain out of jail with alternative forms, and although their normal routine will be affected by these alternative sentences, it’s less of a shock to their routine, and there is not a major reintegration period like there can be following a jail sentence.
Let the team at Appelman Law Firm advocate for alternative sentencing options in the event that you can’t get your charges dropped. For more information, or for help with a different criminal matter, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.