HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There is controversy in the courthouse. Faith in Action Alabama is calling on the District Attorney’s Office to make changes to the Madison County Pre-Trial Intervention program to make sure anyone can participate regardless of income.
LaGarrette Crawford with Faith in Action Alabama said there’s a problem with the Madison County Pre-trial Intervention Program.
“We have identified wealth preference concerns regarding the application process for the participation of the indigent defendant,” Crawford said.
The pre-trial intervention program helps some non-violent offenders avoid a record by utilizing rehabilitative resources and paying their debt to victims, which essentially dismisses their case.
So how much does this program cost?
According to the DA,, it varies, but the average is about $1,500 over the two year program.
Crawford said that creates a barrier.
“They need to be removing associated and unassociated economic barriers that prevent them from completing the program and adjudicating out of the system,” he said.
Meanwhile, Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel said he’s had clients who went through the program and it’s nothing short of life-changing.
“You have to admit, you have to take responsibility for the crime, you must admit that you have done this otherwise there is nothing to be rehabilitated for,” McDaniel said.
As for the fees associated, McDaniel said it does cost money.
“It’s not inexpensive for the DA’s office to do. They have people hired to oversee the program so you have taxpayer money being spent for people to oversee the programs,” he said.
This program, McDaniel said is a way to take the burden off the taxpayer all the while giving an offender a second chance.
“The taxpayers don’t have to pay it, you have the person who goes to the program, helps in the rehabilitation, they pay the expenses so the taxpayers don’t have to pay it.”
The DA tells our WAFF if someone legitimately cannot pay, they will work with them.
According to the DA’s website, criteria for eligibility include:
1. Must not have more than one prior felony conviction.
2. Must admit guilt.
3. Must be at least 18 years old.
4. Must not be charged with a Class A felony or a crime involving serious injury or death to a person.