Alternative

Sentencing

Believing the model developed in our Reentry effort would work in preventing incarceration on the front end, we piloted four District Court Alternative Sentencing Programs. Through our Alternative Sentencing program, individuals with district court charges are given the choice to enter our counseling and education program in lieu of fines, community service, and jail time.

Restore Hope recognizes that alternative sentencing (when properly implemented) is an opportunity to interrupt the destructive patterns of behavior by engaging individuals in proven programs shortly after the arrest. Using a Collaborative Case Management Approach, Restore Hope helps jurisdictions implement evidence-based alternatives to incarceration for non-violent misdemeanor and felony convictions. Restore Hope has been successful in showing judges and prosecutors that many statutes allow for alternatives to incarceration. When all vested parties in the justice system are collaborating, the individual is more likely to benefit from our evidence-based programs designed to help them change mindset and behavior, overcome drug and alcohol addictions, and view their role in the community as productive.

Restore Hope has a successful referral partnership with Harbor House for life/recovery coaching. The life/recovery coach component of the Restore Hope alternative sentencing model is successful because it not only helps the participant overcome addiction issues but encourages the participant to develop a life plan. Life planning is a best practice method that helps individuals anticipate and interrupt negative patterns of thinking and behavior before they relapse or re-offend.

Judge Baker cited a man in his late 50s named John, who discovered through alternative sentencing referral to an adult education program that he had a learning disability. John was first given a written exam at the education center to determine his level of knowledge, on which he scored poorly. But once John was given the exam orally, he scored much higher. “He was shocked. Learning of his disability and being given the tools to overcome it and succeed in obtaining his high school equivalency has made an enormous impact on John”, Judge Baker said. “I’ve seen how it has completely transformed his life to participate in this program,” Baker continued. “He’s more confident; he’s more responsible – it’s like he’s taken control of his life. His life has been changed by his opportunity to go to school and obtain his GED and learn that nothing was wrong with him.”

Below are two research studies that support the need and effectiveness of alternative sentencing. The first study was an independent evaluation conducted by the National Center for State Courts and John Jay College. The findings from this 286-page report on the Red Hook Community Justice Center are impressive:

  1. 78% of offenders received community service or social service sanctions instead of jail time
  2. Jail bed space was reserved for violent offenders and reserved as a “secondary” sanction for non-compliant alternative sentencing offenders
  3. There was a sustained decrease in both felony and misdemeanor arrests in the police precincts served by the Justice Center
  4. Adult defendants handled at the Justice Center were 10% less likely to commit new crimes than offenders who were processed in a traditional courthouse (Crawford County Arkansas is achieving 16% recidivism using the Restore Hope model)
  5. For each of the 3,210 adult misdemeanor defendants arraigned at the Justice Center in 2008, taxpayers realized $4,756 per defendant ($15,266,760) in avoided victimization costs relative to similar cases processed in a traditional misdemeanor court
  6. Based on interviews with residents, community leaders, and offenders, the public perceives the Justice Center not as an outpost of city government, but as a homegrown community institution

Download Alternative Sentencing [PDF]