Early Release Programs
What is an “Early Release Program”?
Most states have criminal statutes referring to “early release programs”. An early release program allows a criminal offender to be released early from incarceration, before their actual sentence is fully completed. In most cases, such programs are also called “parole”, though there may be some differences between parole and early release.
The purpose of early release programs is to allow offenders to re-enter society more quickly upon a showing that they have been rehabilitated from their criminal activity. Early release programs may also serve as an incentive for convicted persons to follow the rules while inside a prison or jail facility.
Who is Eligible for Early Release Programs?
Early release programs are generally reserved for offenders who are not considered to be a threat to the safety of the community. Early release programs are commonly available as a sentencing option for:
- Juvenile offenders
- First-time offenders
- Certain non-violent offenders
In order to qualify for an early release program, a judge may require additional evidence in support of the offender’s good behavior and improved moral character. When examining eligibility for early release, a judge may review:
- Recommendations and reports made by prison staff
- Pre-trial investigation reports
- Information from prior criminal reports
- Statements from the victim (especially if the victim and offender have undergone mediated rehabilitation counseling with one another in person)
- Reports from psychiatric, psychological, or medical experts
- Statements and testimony from the offender
What Does “Good Time” Mean?
Some states have established “Good Time” measures in connection with early release. “Good Time” procedures allow inmates to have an automatic reduction in their sentence for each day or week that they spend without violating prison rules. Under Good Time programs, inmates may also reduce their sentences by taking positive steps towards improvement, such as participating in educational projects or community service programs.
What are Some Conditions Attached to an Early Release Program?
Early release programs usually require the offender to be subject to strict monitoring once they are actually released from the facilities. As in parole or probation programs, they may be required to follow several conditions.
Violations of parole or early release terms can result in the program being terminated; the offender may even be sent back to prison if they:
- Commit another crime
- Fail to meet with a parole officer or supervising officer
- Are found positive in a drug test, or are found possessing controlled substances
- Fail to complete required community service hours
Depending on the nature of the offense, more strict measures can also be applied, such as: requiring the offender to live in a rehabilitative home; requiring them to stay home when not working or performing community service; must obtain permission before moving, getting married, changing jobs, or traveling outside of the jurisdiction.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Early Release Programs?
Early release programs can be very beneficial for qualifying offenders. If you need assistance with an early release program, an experienced criminal lawyer can be of much assistance to you. Your lawyer can determine whether you are eligible for early release. They can also be on hand to help make sure you are meeting the program requirements and are following the terms for early release.
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Last Modified: 05-04-2012 03:46 PM PDT
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