Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Criminal Defense blog discussed the overburdened prison system and the need for sentencing alternatives to ease taxpayer burden while offering appropriate, rehabilitative sentences for low-risk, nonviolent offenders in the state.
The cost of housing an inmate in Oklahoma's prison system is roughly $40 a day. The cost of probation, on the other hand, is less than $3 a day. Incarceration frequently leaves released offenders ill-equipped to adjust to living in mainstream society and more likely to re-offend.
Community sentencing and intensive supervision probation (ISP) not only ease the taxpayer burden, but also provide rehabilitative tools for nonviolent or low-risk offenders. Just what is alternative sentencing?
Oklahoma lawyers negotiate sentencing options beyond incarceration for clients convicted of nonviolent offenses and for defendants who are unlikely to commit a crime again in the future. Alternative sentencing includes deferred sentences, intensive supervision probation, drug courts, DUI courts, and other community sentencing options.
The use of technology helps make supervision of certain types of probation easier to monitor. GPS tracking ankle devices can be used to monitor the whereabouts of a probationary offender.
For Oklahoma DUI convictions, alcohol-monitoring devices such as SCRAMx ankle cuffs and ignition interlock can help ensure that DUI offenders are complying with alcohol treatment programs. Across the state of Oklahoma, certain incarceration alternatives are already in place. HB2131 seeks to expand alternative sentencing, making it more widely available to nonviolent, low-risk offenders. Some sentencing alternatives include:
- Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP)--generally requires offenders to pay restitution, pay a supervision fee, perform community service, maintain employment, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
- House Arrest--similar to ISP, but more stringent in the terms, requiring the convicted offender to spend a significant duration of the sentence confined to his or her own home. While the offender may be allowed to work outside the home, strict curfews and other restrictions are in place, and the offender's whereabouts may be monitored through telephone voice verification, GPS ankle monitoring, and pagers.
- Residential Community Corrections programs--also known as a "halfway house"
- Drug Court and DUI Court--emphasize probation, restitution, and rehabilitation through substance abuse treatment and counseling, random drug testing, and alcohol monitoring
Alternative sentencing focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. By providing counseling and other tools to nonviolent offenders or those at low-risk for offending again, the Oklahoma penal system alleviates taxpayer burden and allows those convicted to serve sentences which allow them to become productive citizens of the state.
This story is part two of a two-part look at alternative sentencing in Oklahoma, establishing the necessity for sentencing alternatives to reduce prison overcrowding. In our previous Oklahoma Criminal Defense blog post, we will examined the overpopulated prison system necessitating community sentencing programs and other alternative sentencing programs in Oklahoma.