Russell Hebets Dec. 16, 2015

You may have seen people with ankle monitors, or heard of those who get home detention as a sentence, but who actually qualifies for alternative sentencing and how does it work? Alternative sentencing embodies consequences that minimize the use full incarceration. It includes work release programs, home detention, weekender programs and treatment based releases. Usually they use a combination of approaches that can be great options for people who find themselves in trouble but who still need to work and attend to other responsibilities. Most requests for alternative sentencing involve an application process with the county sheriff’s office and approval from the sentencing judge. Approval is based on a combination of factors including the nature of the crime charged, criminal history, personal needs and the efforts and good faith shown by the individual during the process. All expenses related to alternatives are charged to the defendant. 

Work Release 

This may be the most common form of alternative sentencing. When someone is convicted of a crime with jail time, work release allows that time to be served without the person losing their job. Typically, the individual is released to work, and returns to jail every night. Most programs will work with people who have night shifts or odd schedules. These programs will require contact with your workplace and sometimes require tracking devices like an ankle monitor. It’s ideal for someone with an established career and a good relationship with their employer. 

The weekender 

Similar to work release, these sentencing schemes are good for someone with a minimal sentence, usually not more than 30 days, who has maintained steady employment. This alternative allows an individual to remain out of custody during the work-week, but requires him or her to enter into jail for consecutive weekends until their sentence is completed. Weekenders are not common and not all counties participate. As with work release, there will be monitoring and a minimum amount of time, approximately two days per week, which must be spent in jail. 

In-home detention 

An in home detention sentence means that you do not serve any time in jail, however your movement is limited.  Typically you may move freely during the weekdays within a given time-frame, however you would be required to be back inside your home at a set curfew.  You are not allowed to leave your home again until the following day after your curfew has expired.  Some jurisdictions also require that you remain in your home on weekend days. Like a weekender, not every county will do this, but it may be a great fit for someone with health issues or who has to take care of others in addition to working. It may also be a potential solution for one who lives someplace other than the state where they were charged. In-home detention sentences will often be much more expensive than traditional jail sentences.   

Treatment programs 

Courts increasingly recognize that many crimes are not so much related to a person’s moral character or judgement, but their struggles with addiction. Consequently there are sentencing schemes that require rehab and treatment.  An example of this in Colorado would be the Inmate/Outmate program in Jefferson County. Inmate/outmate allows someone who is a repeat offender on DUIs or drug related offenses to participate in a  program that helps with addiction issues and lets you serve most of your time out of jail. This program is structured in phases. The first includes some jail time, treatment, monitoring, supervision contacts and drug screens. Then it moves into phases two and three which continue treatment and support beyond the reduced jail term. In addition to treatment, inmate/outmate uses a unique monitoring device called sleeptime, which can detect alcohol or drugs in a person’s system based on sleep patterns. It is smaller than a GPS monitor and is worn on the wrist like a watch or a fitbit, so it is less intrusive than traditional monitors. The program allows for a person to minimize the time they spend in jail while getting the treatment they need. It also gives them the opportunity to continue working and be with family. It is a demanding program that requires weekly attendance at treatment and meetings, but a great fit for someone who is committed to addressing their issues with substance abuse while continuing to work. 

Getting charged with a crime with possible jail time is a frightening experience that you never have to navigate alone. Our firm provides excellent support throughout the process including exploring any available options for serving time other than jail and getting the help and support you need to fully address the matter. Contact us for a free case evaluation!