Alternative Sentencing: A Most Unusual Situation

With nearly 1.4 million persons arrested for DUI offences and approximately 51 percent of those in jail having a drug- or alcohol-related case, there is a growing concern on the effectiveness of prison sentencing in effecting change in convicted offenders. Considering that jails are getting severely overcrowded, there is now a growing trend of issuing alternative sentencing, especially for first-time offenders. While the sentences can be as creative as the judge warrants, it is restricted by the 8th amendment that specifies that punishment cannot be cruel and unusual.

Whether or not they work is still being debated, but if you happen to have missed the news reports on some of the creative ways that judges are opting not to contribute to the overcrowding in jail, here are a few unusual alternative sentencing related to drug and alcohol offences.

Seek the Lord

The bible and church recently played a part in the sentencing of a woman and a man in South Carolina and Oklahoma respectively. The woman was ordered to read the whole book of Job and then write a summary of it while the 17-year-old young man was ordered to attend church for the next 10 years along with a few other stipulations. The cases in question saw two persons being seriously injured and another killed both due to instances of drunk driving, contributing to the 10,000 people killed and the hundreds of thousands injured each year from DUI-related incidents. 

 An argument against such rulings is that the judges really had no jurisdiction to enforce them and the lawyers defending the cases could and probably should have objected to the ruling, especially since they had connotations falling within the religious liberty laws. Even though the defendants were given a choice in sentencing, it is possible that they were not aware that they could have refused.

Get it together

For drug-related offenses, the alternatives can involve anything from attending drug rehabilitation programs to military-style boot camps that are instituted to help drug users especially stay clean and become more productive members of society. Such is the case in the Maryland justice system where about 2,100 non-violent drug offenders participate in the program each year. The reported statistics from this says it saves the taxpayers more than 75 percent of the cost associated with housing each convicted offender in prison and has at least a 50 percent success rate at deterrence.

While many persons who may have been convicted may have fallen into the indigent ration of those who had to rely on court appointed lawyers, that might soon not be the case as a new step is being taken in the U.S. to supply defendants with their choice of attorney at the expense of the government. This process might save some people from the alternative sentencing as you first have to be found guilty. 

If you need a drug defense attorney, contact a professional law offices, like Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices.