New Probation Law Could Ease Prison Crunch

by on March 29, 2013

in criminal charges

When you are accused of a crime that carries a potential prison sentence, probation can seem like a real blessing. But, throughout your probation, the potential of serving that prison sentence always looms in the background. One misstep and you could be brought to court for a probation revocation hearing. Kansas lawmakers, hoping to ease prison overcrowding, are hoping a law change would give judges more options when people violate their probation.

According to the Kansas City Star, the bill has backing from the Kansas Secretary of Corrections, Ray Roberts, though some see it as giving probationers too many second chances.

image_miniCurrently, when you violate your probation, whether by committing another crime or committing a series of “technical violations” (failed drug test, missed appointments with your probation officer, etc.), you can be brought before the sentencing court for a probation revocation hearing. Depending on the judge and the violations you are accused of, you could stand to have your probation revoked and your original sentence activated.

The number of people going to prison for probation and parole violations has grown 25% since 2009. Interestingly, the number of people going to prison in Kansas for new crimes, has fallen.

On average, the probationer or parolee who is returned to prison will serve 11 months. This comes at a cost of $24,000 per year and further stress on the crowded system.

“Right now we have a one-size-fits-all answer,” said Rep. John Rubin. “We send them right back to the slammer.”

The proposed legislation would provide judges with “graduated sanctions” to apply instead. In other words, a first time probation violator might get a weekend in county jail or tightened probation rules. He wouldn’t be immediately sent to prison.

In addition, the law would allow for greater community sanctions. Community-based programming would be the first line of defense against a violator.

While some law enforcement officials are worried the measure isn’t tough enough, they fail to realize that the “get tough” on crime efforts of years’ past haven’t been too effective.

The bill has already passed the state House and is now before the Senate. It is projected to save $53 million in five years of diverted incarceration costs.

When you are accused of a crime—whether you are already on probation or not—you need someone on your side who understands all of your options with the ultimate goal being to avoid prison time. Contact us today to discuss your charges and to see how we might be able to help. 

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