Vision 7: a Last Chance Before Prison

Oct. 27, 2014

I spent the summer describing alternative justice systems that exist around the world and how they often are community based ( described as “Restorative Justice” in the U.S). I’ve begun a new series on “Alternative Visions of Western Criminal Justice Systems”  that seeks to show how traditional community-based systems can exist alongside current Western systems of criminal justice 061909Prison3_186762f

Front End Reentry Courts, Pre-Entry Courts or Early Intervention Courts are a hybrid response to long prison sentences. They allow offenders to avoid long prison sentences by completing a short term in a prison rehabilitation program (and in some cases jail or community corrections programs), to return to their communities to be supervised by the same court that sentenced them.

It is often thought that the court’s have little recourse or jurisdiction to affect a prison sentence once that sentence has been announced. The truth is, that most state courts have significant jursdiction to alter, amend or modify a prison sentence. Depending on the state, jurisdiction to recall may exist for a period of one month to one year after sentencing.The most obvious purpose of a “front-loaded intervention”, is to order a convicted felon to state prison for an evaluation, assessment, or other purpose, immediately before or after sentence has been imposed

Jjurisdiction exists in many states to recall the felon, after sentencing, for re-consideration and potential re-sentencing. The intention to recall may be announced at the time of sentence, or the decision to recall may be discretionary with the judge within the statutory period. This form of pre-entry intervention is often used to encourage a serious attitude change on the part of a prospective long-tern prisoner.

While this power is found in most state courts, it is most often used by individual judges on a case by case basis. Some courts, in particular drug courts, will use front-loaded jurisdiction to create what can be called a “court-based reentry system” (often described as a Pre-entry Court). The judge may use their jurisdiction to sentence the felon to prison as part of a court-ordered treatment program, with the understanding that the offender is to undergo treatment before returned to court for re-sentencing. If the felon is found in compliance, the court will return the felon to a court-based probation program in the community.

The above are just some of the existing variations in the courts’ use of a brief and immediate prison term, to be followed by recall to the court for sentencing or reconsideration of a sentence previously imposed. They are considered here because they are generally thought of as a successful rehabilitation strategy, designed to get the offender’s attention, assess their suitability for probation, and give them one last chance to change their behavior before a substantial prison sentence is imposed. It should be seriously considered on the program level as an alternative to prison, and as a way to reach out to large numbers of offenders that otherwise would be on their way to long prison terms.

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These observation are to be part of a book to be published on the History of NADCP and the Drug Court Movement. 

(CLICK TO SEE EXCERPTED BOOK CHAPTERS} 

 

 

Understanding Court-Based Reentry Systems

Feb. 5

 

INTRODUCTION

State court or Judicial connections to prisoners and ex-prisoners are much more common than generally believed, among the 50 states. State courts typically have some jurisdiction to intervene in prisoner reentry into the community, but rarely use that authority. Furthermore, relatively few such connections are organized into a systemic program that coordinates court or judicial intervention with community and correctional intervention.

While reentry court may be the best known of court based reentry systems, there are other systemic connections that exist between the court and prisoner/ex-prisoners, that have a substantial impact themselves or hold the potential for such an impact.

The “Court Jurisdiction Chart” is designed to help you analyze whether your state has the potential for a Court-Based Reentry System (or Judicially Supervised Reentry System) and/or Reentry Court [Note: the chart is explained below]

 

[An explanation of this chart can be found in the full article; click here:Judicially Supervised Reentry Interventions]

 


Front-Loading Court-Based Interventions

Picture 8

Dallas Judge Francis with graduates from the Dallas Pre-Entry Court Program

It is generally thought that the court’s have little recourse or jurisdiction to affect a prison sentence once that sentence has been announced. The truth is, that most state courts have significant jursdiction to alter, amend or modify a prison sentence. Depending on the state, jurisdiction to recall may exist for a period of one month to one year after sentencing.The most obvious purpose of a “front-loaded intervention”, is to order a convicted felon to state prison for an evaluation, assessment, or other purpose, immediately before or after sentence has been imposed.

While this power is found in most state courts, it is most often used by individual judges on a case by case basis. Some courts, in particular drug courts, will use front-loaded jurisdiction to create what can be called a “court-based reentry system” . A recent example of such a court-based reentry intervention occurred in New Mexico, where a drug court judge ordered a program violator into prison (before sentencing) for a sixty day evaluation, to be returned to court, for sentencing (see:Preentry Prison Evaluation used in New Mexico )

Similarly, jurisdiction exists in many states to recall the felon, after sentencing, for re-consideration and potential re-sentencing. The intention to recall may be announced at the time of sentence, or the decision to recall may be discretionary with the judge within the statutory period. This form of preentry intervention is often used to encourage a serious attitude change on the part of a prospective long-tern prisoner.

The judge may use their jurisdiction to sentence the felon to prison as part of a court-ordered treatment program, with the understanding that the offender is to undergo treatment before returned to court for re-sentencing. If the felon is found in compliance, the court will return the felon to a court-based probation program in the community.

The Dallas Reentry Court is a excellent example of the extraordinary innovation (and sometimes bewildering variation) among pre-entry courts, that divert offenders from a prison sentence to a probation based custodial program. What makes the Dallas SAFPF Program unique, is that its custodial segment is actually situated on prison grounds, yet program participants are segregated from the prison population, and never leave the jurisdiction of the County SAPFP Court Program.

The Texas legislature’s “4C program” provides  in-custody facilities within the prison’s outer perimeter , and uses specially trained, but regular prison guards. Although there are approximately ten jurisdictions that take advantage of “4c” facilites, Dallas is by far the largest, and the only one that has a court and judge dedicated to the reentry mission. Seventeen Dallas judges sentence drug offenders to the  SAFPF program, but when offenders finsh their in-custody treatment (typically 6 to 9 months),  they enter a dedicated Reentry Court for monitoring, continued treatment and rehabilitative services.

Judge Robert Francis, a retired judge, works full time as the reentry court judge. He and his staff take regualr trips to the “4C” facilities to check up on Dallas based offenders. Plans are in the works to reward those who do well well in the in-custody program.  Though the progam is less than a year old, 275  participants have completed the in-custody “4C” treatment program, and been released into the care and custody of Judge Francis and the Dallas SAFPF Reeentry Court,  where revocations are at an extraordinarily low 5% (Dallas SAFPF Reentry Court)

Boone County, Mo. is an example of a jurisdiction that has uses its front-loaded court jurisdiction to send drug dependent violators to prison for a period of up four months for treatment, to be returned to Judge Chris Carpenter’s Reentry Court (or what some describe as a Preentry Court), for further probation rehabilitation and monitoring in the community. Columbia, Missouri’s “Reintegration Court” is considered a Reentry Court, as it provides a comprehensive rehabilitation program, focused on the whole individual, his/her risk of recidivism,  and relies on evidence based practices after the prison term. (see: Columbia Missouri)

The above are just some of the existing variations in the courts’ use of a brief and immediate prison term, to be followed by recall to the court for sentencing or reconsideration of a sentence previously imposed. They are considered here because they are generally thought of as a successful rehabilitation strategy (and in the case of Boone County, a Reentry Court Program), designed to get the offender’s attention, assess their suitability for probation, and give them one last chance to change their behavior before a substantial prison sentence is imposed. It should be seriously considered on the program level as an alternative to prison, and as a way to reach out to large numbers of offenders that otherwise would be on their way to long prison terms.

Drug Court used as a Court-Based Reentry Intervention

Feb. 4

Drug Courts have only recently begun to meet their potential, by concentrating on the rehabilitation and treatment of the high risk offender, who otherwise would be sent to prison. The article belows, shows how one Oklahoma court is trying to use front-loaded prison treatment in lieu of long prison terms. It appears that atleast some of the prison terms imposed require the successful completion of a drug treatment program in prison (or other custodial setting) before the court will return the felon to a community-based program and probation supervision. The sentence appears to describe a Court-Base Reentry System (probably drug court based )and possibly a “reentry court”.

 (Stillwater, Okla.) — A four-time convicted drug offender from Cushing was given a 10-year prison term Friday for possessing substances with intent to manufacture methamphetamine at a Cushing apartment with three co-defendants.

Savannah Colette Hilbert, 27, who was already on probation for methamphetamine possession, has been jailed on $100,000 bond since her arrest in September by the Payne County Sheriff’s Office.

Although she was ordered into prison Friday, District Judge Phillip Corley told her in court that he would suspend the rest of her sentence on her successful completion of a drug treatment program while incarcerated.

One of her co-defendants, Christopher Sean Ward, 36, of Cushing, who was also already on probation for methamphetamine possession, was given a seven-year prison term on Dec. 13 for his role in the case. He has been jailed on $100,000 bail since his arrest.

Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler told Ward that he would suspend the remainder of his sentence on his successful completion of a drug treatment program in prison.

Another of her co-defendants, David Jesse Baxter, 26, of Cushing, who also was on probation in an earlier methamphetamine case, was placed on 15 years’ probation on Dec. 2 by Kistler, who ordered him to enroll in and successfully complete the Payne County Drug Court program. He had been jailed on $100,000 bail.

Another co-defendant, Luke Patrick Danyeur, 30, of Yale, remains free on $35,000 bail pending his preliminary hearing on Jan. 12 in the methamphetamine case.

All four were alleged to have possessed — at an apartment in the 500 block of E. Moses Street in Cushing — crystal drain opener, liquid drain opener, Coleman fuel, iodized salt, methamphetamine, a cold medication containing pseudoephedrine, an instant cold compress containing ammonium nitrate, and three lithium batteries with intent to use those substances to manufacture methamphetamine on September 26.

According to court documents, Hilbert was convicted in 2008 of three charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, once in 2004 and twice in 2008.

She was ordered to serve 120 days in the Payne County Jail, to be transported to inpatient treatment when a bed was available, and then to serve 15 years of probation.

Last March, Ward was placed on five years’ probation with an order to enroll in and successfully complete the Payne County Drug Court program, for possessing methamphetamine in 2010 and 2011, both in Cushing, court records show.

In 2010, Baxter was placed on five years’ probation for possession of methamphetamine in Perkins with intent to distribute in 2008, court records show.

Pre-Sentence Prison Evaluation used in New Mexico

Feb.4

A pre-sentence evaluation is often used to give an offender, a failed drug court participant in particular, an opportunity to see what a substantial prison sentence would be like. The program described, appears to be part of a court-based reentry system, probably a drug court. In this instance, a New Mexico judge, ordered resigned State Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr., to serve 60 days in prison while being evaluated

A County Jail Based Reentry Court Grant Application

June 9th

This is one of many articles  I’ve written on the 2011 “Second Chance Act” Reentry Court RFP, in an attempt to stir interest in a major funding opportunity involving community alternatives to prison. In this analysis,  I will review the Reentry Court RFP from the perspective of a  county -jail, probation-based reentry court applicant.

Typically, when one thinks of a reentry process, the focus is on state prisoners reentering society.  While this is clearly a critical issue, the possibility of keeping the offenders in the local community , and using a substantial jail term as a last resort to prison has not always received the focus it deserves. Creating an effective county jail-based reentry court program offers the possibility of reducing the state prison population with its extraordinary costs, keeping offenders local, while increasing public safety within a seamless and comprehensive jail-based reentry court system.

Note: This solicitation is open to offenders returning from jails as well as prisons.

The pressure is on to reduce prison population in states like California. Governor Jerry Brown has committed  his new administration to implementing a major sentencing realignment that will optimally send 30,000 state prisoners back to local communities and county court jurisdiction.  The potential for dealing with offenders at an early stage of the criminal justice process (potentially at Arraignment), allowing for the seamless transitioning from jail to community, providing judicial oversight and incentives, using the same reentry court team throughout, and providing critical rehabilitation services early on, is an important alternative to prison based reentry court (see: County Jail Based Reentry Courts, a Policy Paper). An additional benefit, is that the local jurisdiction can submit an application and proceed with their planned reentry court, even in states that don’t support state prison-based reentry courts.

It’s worth repeating, that an obvious way to deal with exploding prison populations and prisoner reentry failures is to refrain from sentencing non-violent offenders to prison in the first place.

Reentry Court Grant Opportunities for County Jails

June 6th

The recent pubication of BJA’s reentry court RFP presents a variety of important options to the reentry court field.

Perhaps one of the most important facts to remember is that the grants are available to county jail as well as prison returnees.

County Sheriffs who may be facing an influx of prisoners to local jurisdictions (ie, California), should consider how $500,000 grants would lighten their burden. They can use the funds to provide services in custody, while inmates are in transitional housing, and/or when they are living in the community.

In that regard, it’s important to note who may apply: “states, units of local government, federally recognized Indian tribes, and non-profit entities that target adult populations.”

At a time when rehabilitation funds are drying up, this is an extraordinary opportunity to access as much as three years of federal funding for local alternative sentencing.

Each day this week, at least one new article will be published, focusing on a critical aspect of  the Reentry Court RFP

Remember, the RFP deadline is June 30th.

Pre-Entry Court as RFP Applicant

Note: Deadline for applications; June 3, 2010

This is the fourth and last article  on the “Second Chance Act” Reentry Court Solicitation. In this analysis,  I will review the RFP from the perspective of a Pre-Entry or county jail, probation-based reentry court applicant. [Note: A Pre-Entry Court is a before entry to prison court)

Typically, when one thinks of a reentry process, the focus is on state prisoners reentering society.  While this is clearly a critical issue, the possibility of keeping the offenders in the local community , and using a substantial jail term as a last resort has not always received the focus it deserves. Creating an effective county jail-based reentry court program offers the possibility of reducing the state prison population with its extraordinary costs, keeping offenders local, while increasing public safety within a seamless and comprehensive jail-based reentry court system.

Note:This solicitation is open to offenders returning from jails as well as prisons.

The pressure is on to reduce prison population in states like California (see article below). Governor Schwarzenneger has just announce a major new prison plan to return 15,000 prisoners to county jail to complete up to three years of their sentences. This news augurs well for Pre-Entry or County Probation-Based Reentry Courts. The potential for dealing with offenders at an early stage of the criminal justice process (possibly as soon as Arraignment), allowing for the seamless transitioning from jail to community, providing judicial oversight and incentives, using the same reentry court team throughout, and providing critical rehabilitation services early on, is a compelling alternative to prison  (see: County Jail Based Reentry Courts, a Policy Paper).

An additional benefit of the Pre-Entry Court, is that the local jurisdiction can submit an application and proceed with their planned reentry court, even in states that don’t support state prison-based reentry courts. As described in last week’s article, “RFP Targets Criminal Justice Leadership“,   there is enormous political, social, and financial pressure to handle prisoner reentry through the corrections and parole mechanisms that have always been in place. Hopefully, by showing that Reentry Court works on the county level, many more states will take a serious look at reentry court as an alternative to the failed conventional corrections/parole based reentry system presently in place at the state level.

It’s worth repeating the obvious, the way to deal with exploding prison populations and prisoner reentry failures is to refrain from sentencing non-violent offenders to prison in the first place.