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What Is Alternative Sentencing for Drug Offenders?

What Is Alternative Sentencing for Drug Offenders?Recent concerns involving overcrowded prisons and costly trials have led to many San Diego public officials reevaluating traditional sentencing for drug offenders. Many drug offenders are simply arrested for being in possession of small amounts of marijuana. They are then put through an expensive trial and made to do jail time. They do not get the help they actually need. In many cases the court is dealing with addicts who need to find professional help, and, instead of getting professional help, the offenders end up in a cell with no problem resolved and no plan in place for the future.

The Political Side of Alternative Drug Sentencing for San Diego Residents

There has been a push to change the repercussions for drug offenders. Offering rehab in place of jail time assists in lowering repeat offenders. This will help the offender and can save the courts and San Diego residents millions of dollars.

In the Pacific Standard Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams noted that 10 percent of the most serious arrests in the city were for marijuana possession, and often times the amount is less than three grams. He stated, “We’re spending thousands of dollars per case to make sure they have an attorney, that they get discovery, we analyze the drug, the lights are on in the courthouse … all this for people who have about 10 dollars’ worth of weed.” Now Williams has pushed for those people to be charged as summary offenders, which negates the need for a full trial and can potentially eliminate 4,000 trials a year.

The Rehabilitation Side of Alternative Sentencing for Drug Offenders

When a defendant pleads guilty for a particular crime, he or she may have the option to be immediately sent to a rehabilitation program. Upon successful completion of the program the offense is often taken off the books. If an individual participating in court-ordered rehab does not finish the program, he or she will be sent to jail.

Wayne McKenzie, the director of the Persecution and Racial Justice Program of the Vera Institute of Justice, told the Pacific Standard that the rehab programs offered to drug offenders are intensive and last anywhere from 18 months to two years. “They don’t just treat the addiction,” said McKenzie, “but try to give these individuals social skills they might have been lacking. And when they complete the program, the felony is dismissed. If they don’t complete it, there is a pre-determined sanction.” Rehab is not an easy out for those charged with drug-related crimes, but it can create lasting change for San Diego residents that jail will not.

Where to Find Help for Addiction or Drug-Related Crime

Alternative programs for drug sentencing can alleviate the problems of those struggling with addiction, but there is a way to get help before the law becomes involved. We are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about your options for avoiding the lasting consequences of continued drug use.