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Alternatives to incarceration in Virginia


Alternativesto incarceration in Virginia

Aperson convicted of a criminal offense in nations or states whichfollow the rule of law are sent to jail or join rehabilitationcenters. According to Gillibrand K. &amp Senate (2015), the UnitedStates ranks the first in the world in incarceration rate, with 25%of the world’s inmates. In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holderlamented the high number of prisoners spending more jail terms withno meaningful correctional measures. In Virginia, programs are inplace for alternative correctional measures for offenders to helpincrease the decline in crime rates. This paper purposes to evaluatethe alternative incarceration in Virginia, examine the effectivenessof pretrial diversion in preventing recidivism and providerecommendations for promoting rehabilitation programs as well ashighlighting viable alternatives to incarceration for my state,Virginia.

Alternativeincarceration programs

The criminals with short jail terms are allowed to serve jailsentences during weekends. The programs are in place for only theemployed. The law allows for a work release in cases where the termexceeds 30 days. This allows the convict-cum-employee to leave jailduring the day to work and later return behind bars at night. Inother close alternatives, the court grants home imprisonment forindividuals living with medical conditions of great difficulty tomonitor in the jail (Rotter &amp Barber-Rioja, 2015).

Theleast restrictive local programs are essential for the rehabilitationof the prisoners. The optional sentencing measures ensure that theconvicted maintain their employment or are offered a drug and mentalhealth treatment as in the case where such contributed to thecommitment of the crimes. What is more, the medical conditions arewell handled in homes, something that could have worsened in prison.

Finesand Restitutions save violators from going to jails. They are issuedto offenders either as additional or independent punishments. Theconvicts pay supervision fees, court costs, and fines depending onthe type of the criminal offense (Rotter &amp Barber-Rioja, 2015).For instance, tariff fines are used on drunk drivers, regardless oftheir incomes. For restitutions, the convicts fund a section or allthe victim’s treatment costs or the lost or destroyed property.

Drug court is another alternative operated by a collaboration ofprobation officers, sheriff’s officers, judges, and theCommonwealth’s Attorney (Rotter &amp Barber-Rioja, 2015). Thepeople who benefit from the programs are substance addicts. It playsa role in deterrence for individuals with drug charges and ones withprobation violations.

Additionally,the Department of Correction runs the detention and diversionprograms in the form of boot camps. In this case, a modernimprisonment is applied that focuses on a short, intensive,quasi-military program for the offenders at the detention centers.They are then sent to diversion sites where skill-based interventionsare offered. Such training restores the morals and the good sides ofthe criminals. At the end of the prison terms, usually 12- 18 months,the convicts leave as reformed members of the community (Rotter &ampBarber-Rioja, 2015).

Onthe same breath other alternative ways to imprisonment include homeconfinement, community service, sex offender treatment, and publicshaming. Citizens on home arrest programs are placed on theelectronic home monitoring (EHM) to enable the officer in-charge totrack where the offenders are all the time.

Pretrialdiversion programs

Theseare voluntary alternatives to the normal criminal justice processingused for convicts of mental health, substance abuse, alcohol andco-occurring disorders. According to DeMatteo D. et al. (2013),the diversion provides the best alternative way in the crime caseswhere the defendants are charged with offenses that end in thedismissal of charges upon the successful completion of thepersonalized correctional plans. The primary goal of such programs isto identify the reasons for committing the offense to reduce thechances of recurrence.

Pretrialdiversion is effective in the reduction of crime rates. When theoffenders have diverted away from the traditional justice system, theroot causes of criminal activities are determined. The behaviorsleading to unethical ways are corrected in a holistic manner.

Inprograms where the offender has a mental program, positive outcomesare realized when it is done by a health provider with a goodunderstanding of the needs of the individual being corrected.DeMatteo D. et al. (2013) indicates that pretrial alternativeslead to positive mental health outcomes for drug abuse and treatmentfor the offenders compared to when the traditional justice process isfollowed.

Onthe financial side, pretrial diversion effectively cut the costs inthe judicial system. The reduced number of crimes is good on theexpenditure in Virginia. The resources which are used in state lawenforcement and judicial system decreases significantly. According toMonahan &amp Skeem (2013), in the 2011 state budget, the JudicialDepartment and Public Safety took 7.7% of the non-generalexpenditure. Further down the years, the operations in the Virginiaprisons consumed $798million of the annual budget (Henrichson C. &ampDelaney R., 2012). Adopting the alternative incarceration measureslike the pretrial diversion programs is a sure way to reduce thesecosts when properly implemented.

However,pretrial and diversion programs have drawbacks on Non-U.S citizens. For those aliens with no documentation records or the legal permanentresidents, to accept the diversion offers can lead to deportationfrom the U.S. Inadmissibility is also a negative possibility on theaforementioned individuals. For instance, when one violates theconvictions for substance abuse, they can be deported (Monahan &ampSkeem, 2013). These negative consequences call upon the suspects toconsult their counsel on the interplay between the pretrialintervention and the immigration laws DeMatteo D. et al. (2013).

Probationfor rehabilitating offenders in Virginia

Probationis used in enhancing the public safety. The offenders are closelymonitored to impact positively on realizing crime-free and pro-sociallives. In Virginia, there are legislations for handling misdemeanorand non-violent felony offenders as alternatives to jail. Forexample, the Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB) guides theincarceration options at the local level. Section 9, 1-176 of theCode of Virginia mandates a host of services as part of probation atthe community level (Henrichson C. &amp Delaney R., 2012). Theoffenders are supervised when offering community services whileothers on home imprisonment are monitored electronically on substanceabuse.

Thetreatment for substance abuse offender in Virginia is a component ofrehabilitation programs. The convict differs from the prisoners,though their freedom is still curtailed. The probationers andparolees can have easier access to drugs and violate the term as perthe pretrial agreements.

TheRichmond Department of Justice Services has probation service at thelocal level for adults. The community-based involvement is meant toenable the flexibility of stakeholders in their response to crimeproblems in the city. The alternatives for the post-sentencing ofconvicts are in accordance to the Virginia code 19.2-303.3.Similarly, probation of the offenders is supported by Article 1 ofChapter 18 of Title 19.2 of the Code of (Monahan &amp Skeem, 2013).The services offered are substance abuse testing, education,counseling domestic violence, shoplifting prevention angermanagement, treatment group and community services.


Foran improved public safety, probation officers and all stakeholdersneed to adopt the Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) in offenderrehabilitation. EBP is vital in determining what works for improvingthe positive offender outcomes. The convicts are essentially groupedbased on recidivism risk and identified needs. This will enable theprobationer to be rehabilitated relevant to their needs. Suchinterventions are centered on the reduction of risks and ultimatelyharboring crime to improve public safety (Banse R. et al.,2013).

Probationwould also contribute better to the reduction of crime andincarceration rates if a restorative justice approach is applied.This is a belief that offenders need to repay the victims. Thecommunities from which the violators hail must be receptive to therestoration of the convicts. It requires that probation iscommunity-based. The community then joins hands to serve in thepanels reviewing a specific criminal case before drafting therecommendations to solve the problem (Banse R. et al., 2013).Resources have to come from this particular society.

Fromthe restoration of justice the focus shifts to community justice.This aims to restore the quality of life in the community. The entirestakeholders formulate measure to develop a community capacitybuilding for the informal social control. On top of the communityjustice standpoint, a partnership is recommended for viable probationservices in Virginia. Contributions from the law enforcement,community groups, schools, welfare, businesses, and financialinstitutions are important in public the correction of law violatorsfor public safety (Henrichson C. &amp Delaney R., 2012).

Inconjunction with the recommended probation programs, drug courts,community corrections, and home confinement are viable alternativesfor incarceration alternatives. The judicial and security system canadopt mental health courts for a court-supervised mental healthtreatment for the convicts with such conditions. For a holisticreduction in crime rates, restorative justice is relevant forVirginia. This sentencing process focuses on repairing harm andfostering healing to people who are affected by crime, plus theoffender. It requires a corporation among the justice system,violators, victims, and community members. They formulate sentencingcircles, victim-offender mediation and restitution (Banse R. etal., 2013).


Banse, R., Koppehele-Gossel, J., Kistemaker, L. M., Werner, V. A., &ampSchmidt, A. F. (2013). Pro-criminal attitudes, intervention, andrecidivism.&nbspAggression and Violent Behavior,&nbsp18(6),673-685.

DeMatteo, D., LaDuke, C., Locklair, B. R., &amp Heilbrun, K. (2013).Community-based alternatives for justice-involved individuals withsevere mental illness: Diversion, problem-solving courts, andreentry.&nbspJournal of Criminal Justice,&nbsp41(2),64-71.

Gillibrand, H. K., &amp Senate, U. S. (2015). Re: Statement on MassIncarceration

Henrichson, C., &amp Delaney, R. (2012). The price of prisons: Whatincarceration costs taxpayers.&nbspFederal SentencingReporter,&nbsp25(1), 68-80.

Monahan, J., &amp Skeem, J. L. (2013). Risk redux: The resurgence ofrisk assessment in criminal sanctioning.&nbspVirginia Public Lawand Legal Theory Research Paper, (2013-36).

Rotter, M., &amp Barber-Rioja, V. (2015). Diversion programs andalternatives to incarceration. Oxford Textbook of CorrectionalPsychiatry, 107