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Alternative Sentencing Helping Jail Overcrowding Problems
Written by Lindsey Burnworth
Last updated on November 12, 2013 @ 6:13PM
Created on November 12, 2013 @ 4:27PM

Jails are meant for some, but not all.

That's where community corrections, home confinement, and drug courts come into the picture. These programs are meant to rehabilitate offenders rather than have them sit in jail and possibly end up there again in the future.

"The case managers actually go through and do an intake with them, which takes about an hour, to figure out what exactly are their issues. Is the reason that they're committing crime because they don't have a job? Are they addicted to drugs? Then, they focus on what the problem is," said Deputy Rodney Rolenson, who is in charge of community corrections and home confinement in Upshur County.

These programs aren't just a way to get out of punishment for something the offenders have done wrong.

If you're sentenced to a community corrections based program, you have a lot of responsibilities. You're required to check in through the week, take random drug tests, and attend classes and counseling.

There's consequences in offenders don't follow set guidelines. If you continuously break the rules, you could end up behind bars.

"Usually suspend a sentence or if they don't follow through with the program, they can revoke the community corrections program, just like they would with probation, and place them incarcerated," said Deputy Rolenson.

Those sentenced to the program have to be willing to change. That's why the program isn't for everyone, but for those who complete it, it can make a world of difference.

"To see them come in that first day, where they're failing the drug screening, when they're absolutely positive to then see them get a fuller face. You know, smile more when they come in, absolutely, you do see some rehabilitation, then there's some who aren't," said Melanie Edmond, a case manager.

"Your addicts aren't really violent offenders. They just have an addiction problem. This allows them to one, put a little pressure on them to do what they're supposed to, and try to help themselves, and try to make them better parts of society to be able to fit back into the community, to be able to find a job, to take care of their family, to take care of their kids," said Deputy Rolenson.

The case workers see those changes too, and that's one thing that keeps them going.

"You've made a difference, and that's the one thing when I came into this field, that I wanted to make a difference, even if it was just one person," said Edmond.

The programs also help tax payers. Those sentenced to them have to pay for expenses out of pocket. It also saves tax payer's money on jail costs.


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Comments (1)
Nov 13, 2013 at 6:07 AM
While politicians attempt to convince the public 'some' lawbreakers aren't meant to be in jail/prison....we continue to see the crime rate in our towns rise. So try again to convince us because this excuse isn't working!! And by the way....breaking the laws DOES require consequences or why bother having officers arrest them in the first place? Home confinement doesn't work as we already are seeing this. Just last week officers are looking for one such person whom cut his monitoring device off his ankle and ran. I doubt seriously they are being monitored at home often as we keep hearing from same politicians that there's not enough officers now to handle the crime in areas of our cities. So this article is full of deceptions. I'm not buying it!
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