Criminal offenders trade jail time for therapy with new program

Criminal offenders trade jail time for therapy with new program

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A program is available for some criminal offenders that allows them to trade jail time for therapy and wipes their records clean.

It's called the Pre-Trial Intervention Program and it's the same program Ray Rice is entering after admitting to beating his wife.

In order to qualify, offenders must be at least 18, admit guilt, and must be a first time offender. Offenders accused of class A felonies such as murder, rape, sodomy, or arson in the first degree are not eligible for the program. However, some sex and domestic violence offenders are allowed to apply.

After successfully completing the program, the offender's case is dismissed. Those in the program for sexually based offenses would not have to register as a sex offender. Dennis Brock, a Madison county music teacher accused of child molestation, was recently accepted into the program.

Offenders must pay for the program themselves, instead of taxpayers who would pay for the offenders if they were in jail. Currently there are 966 people in the Madison County Jail and taxpayers are paying $44-a-day for each person. That totals more than 1-million-dollars a month.

Attorney Mark McDaniel said the Intervention Program saves taxpayers money and is more likely to lead to rehabilitation than jail.

"The statistics of rehabilitation if the person is incarcerated is very, very low," McDaniel said. "Statistics of rehabilitation if they go through the program is very high."

Bill Farris is a Domestic Violence Advocate for Crisis Services. He said our society is set up to blame the victim and make things easier on the offender.

"Victims are hurt, damaged and then we make life harder for them by bending over backwards to help the perpetrator," Farris said.

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