Does Connecticut Allow Alternative Punishments to Jail Sentences?
Interviewer: Does Connecticut allow alternative punishments to jail that someone may qualify or that their attorney can help them get into?
Accelerated Rehabilitation (AR)
Jack O’Donnell: There are programs and facilitating my clients’ entry into them actually comprises a big part of my practice. They are known as accelerated rehabilitation, also as AR for short. It is designed for people with no prior record, and that have never used the program before.
If it’s not a crime of a serious nature and if the judge feels that you’re not likely to offend again, they can grant a program which if you successfully complete it, the charges are dismissed. There is a provision; however, once you’ve used it, you’ve lost it. But the programs are very helpful for people who are otherwise good people who just make a mistake.
Connecticut’s Programs Range from Alcohol Treatment to Family Violence Education
Then there’s an assortment of other treatment programs such as alcohol education programs for DWIs, drug education program for drug offenses, family violence education program, and supervised diversionary program. The latter program is tailored for people with mental health issues. There are also programs designed for military veterans.
Interviewer: Are there any community service programs, such as good will programs?
Jack O’Donnell: We had one called the community service labor program but it’s Vets Go On. Legislature just got rid of it. Every program I spoke of generally has a community service component to it and an education component.
Are These Alternate Programs a Form of Probation?
Interviewer: Are people put on probation with a probation officer during this time period, or is it a form of probation?
Jack O’Donnell: It can be a form of probation. It’s a probationary period where you are prohibited from being involved in any additional trouble during that period. Usually you are not under the supervision of a probation officer.
You may have to send restitution to the probation department and the judge may require that probation evaluate you for substance abuse or mental health evaluations. It is a different arrangement as opposed to a reporting probation as if you had pled guilty and were given a suspended sentence and probation.
How Long Is the Probation Period for a Felony Conviction?
Interviewer: When someone’s on probation, how long does that generally last for a felony conviction?
The Frequency of Reporting to a Probation Officer Is Set by the Officer and Can Be Modified over Time
Jack O’Donnell: The probation period is usually a term of ten years. How often they have to report to a probation officer varies; it all depends on the probation officer. It could be more intensive, it could be less intensive; it could be a non-reporting. The probation officer can relieve you of that, he or she may have you call in periodically or not even do that.