Community Corrections Program

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 What Is a Community Corrections Program?

A community corrections program, also known as a community supervision program, is an alternative criminal sentencing option for a criminal offender who commits a non-violent crime. As an alternative sentence to traditional criminal sentencing, this lower-level monitoring program requires criminal offenders to remain under the supervision of the court through house arrest, electronic monitoring, and through reporting to a community corrections officer.

Community corrections programs are commonly available to first time criminal offenders who commit a non-violent crime. A non-violent crime is a type of crime that does not involve the use of force or injury to the victim.

Non-violent crimes include criminal offenses, such as drug or alcohol-related offenses, bribery, and embezzlement. Because non-violent crimes do not suggest that the perpetrator is violent, a person convicted of a non-violent crime may be eligible to receive an alternative sentence.

Alternative sentences, such as community corrections programs, allow a judge to better prescribe penalties appropriate for the crime committed. For example, if the crime was a nonviolent crime, then a community corrections program may be more appropriate and tailored to that individual rather than a one time criminal fine and/or short jail sentence.

Another advantage of a community corrections program is that it is more flexible and allows the judge to tailor the punishment more narrowly towards the individual that was convicted of the non-violent crime.

What Is a Non-Violent Crime?

As mentioned above, a non-violent crime is a type of crime that does not involve the use of force or injury to the victim. Although the exact definition for what constitutes a non-violent crime will differ according to the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred, in general, non-violent crimes are either charged as either:

  • A Non-Violent Felony: Non-violent felonies are serious crimes that do not involve the use or threat of force against another person, but rather primarily result in property damage or financial losses to the victim.
    • Examples of non-violent felonies include activities such as arson or trafficking controlled substances; or
  • A Non-Violent Misdemeanor: Non-violent misdemeanors are less serious offenses than a non-violent felony and are typically punishable by less than one year in a county jail and/or a small criminal fine.
    • Examples of non-violent misdemeanor offenses include criminal activities such as traffic offenses, lesser theft offenses, vandalism, criminal mischief, interference with child custody, drug possession charges, or perjury.

Once again, an individual convicted of a non-violent crime, especially first time offenders, will typically be eligible for a community corrections program.

What Is Electronic Monitoring?

Electronic monitoring is a type of alternative criminal sentence commonly utilized in cases that end with probation, house arrest, or drug testing. Electronic monitoring is a monitoring system that often includes a residential phone line, a monitoring device, and the utilization of an ankle bracelet.

The electronic monitoring device keeps track of the defendant’s every move utilizing a form of global positioning system (“GPS”). Electronic monitoring may also allow courts to monitor whether or not the wearer has consumed any alcohol.

As far as the actual technological process, an electric monitoring system obtains continual coded signals that are transmitted from the ankle bracelet via a telephone line, cellular transmitters, or Wi-Fi back to the home computers that monitor the location of the individual that is wearing the monitor. These signals are then analyzed to track the wearer’s every movement and determine whether or not they are in violation of their court order.

What Is House Arrest?

House arrest is another type of alternative criminal sentence that is commonly utilized in cases in which a person is subject to probation. House arrest is typically available as an alternative form of criminal sentencing for non-violent offenders, especially in the case of first-time offenders.

House arrest is defined as a person, who is subject to a court order, being restricted in their movement. A person that is subject to house arrest is generally confined to certain pre-approved locations and activities.

For instance, a person subject to house arrest may be allowed to go to work, attend school, visit medical appointments, participate in court appearances, and meet with their lawyer. However, they will also have to follow certain rules, such as:

  • Reporting to their probation officer, who monitors compliance with the court order and conducts check-ins;
  • The person subject to house arrest must also generally abstain from the use of drugs and alcohol, which is generally monitored electronically and through random drug testing; and
  • A curfew is also typically imposed for individuals subject to house arrest, which requires the individual to be home by a certain time.

Is Day Reporting the Same as House Arrest?

In short, no, day reporting is not the same as house arrest. Similar to house arrest, day reporting is another type of alternative criminal sentence. Day reporting programs involve convicted individuals to report to a designated facility during certain hours for court ordered activities.

For example, participants of day reporting programs may engage in drug testing, counseling, vocational training, and perform community service. Day reporting allows individuals to maintain their employment and daily life. Further, unlike house arrest, day reporting does not confine individuals to their homes.

Is Community Corrections the Same as Probation?

In short, no, community corrections are not the same as probation. A community corrections program is an alternative sentencing option available for an offender who commits a non-violent crime. Probation is a specific type of community-based supervision with strict guidelines, whereas community corrections encompasses a broader array of services and interventions to support non-violent criminal offenders in their rehabilitation.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Community Corrections?

One main advantage of a community corrections program is that it offers a variety of different services that an individual may participate in to allow that individual to transition back into the community.

For instance, mental health counseling, drug counseling, and job counseling may all be a part of a person’s participation in a community corrections program. In other words, the focus in the program is on rehabilitation and reentry into the community.

Another advantage is that community corrections programs allow for a reduced incarceration rate, as individuals can serve their sentences while remaining in the community. This also allows the offender to maintain their employment and family/social connections.

As far as disadvantages, one of the main disadvantages is that there is a risk of an offender not complying with the program, which can lead to them being incarcerated and facing heavier criminal penalties. Further, judges will also attempt to balance an individual’s rehabilitation with the safety of the community.

Finally, unlike a person being incarcerated, offenders participating in a community corrections program are not isolated, which means they may be able to continue to participate in criminal behavior.

Am I Required to Go to Jail as Part of a Community Corrections Program?

In short, it depends on your criminal sentence. An offender may have to go to jail as part of their participation in a community corrections program. However, if they do have to go to a jail, it will generally be a facility reserved for non-violent offenders. Also, in some cases, an offender may spend only nights and weekends in the facility if they are permitted to participate in a work-release plan.

What Happens If I Violate the Community Corrections Program?

As far as the exact punishments for violating the terms of your criminal sentence and criminal corrections program, that will be dependent on your exact criminal sentence and the terms of the program. Examples of common consequences for violating the community corrections program, include:

  • Increased supervision, such as the employment of electronic monitoring or ordering the individual to house arrest;
  • A warning or reprimand by a corrections officer for minor violations;
  • Modified conditions for release, such as completing community service or additional check-ins;
  • A short-term jail sentence; and/or
  • A revocation hearing if the violation was significant enough to have the court consider whether or not the alternative sentence needs to be revoked.

Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for Help with a Community Corrections Program?

As mentioned above, community corrections programs may not always be available for every criminal charge. As such, if you have been charged with a non-violent crime, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help you build a strong legal defense for the criminal charges brought against you. Further, they will also be able to help you assert any available legal defenses that may lessen the charges associated with the crime you have allegedly committed or have the charges brought against you dropped altogether.

Finally, if the charges are unable to be dropped, a criminal defense attorney is essential in helping you receive alternative criminal sentencing, such as a community corrections program. Finally, an experienced criminal defense attorney will also be able to represent you at any in-person criminal proceeding.


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