Last week I got a young lady facing up to 20 years in prison for a very serious crime probation after a long and hard fight. Up until the last minute the prosecutor was pushing for prison time. My client and her family waited a very long and anxious year not knowing what would happen and what her future would hold. In the end probation was obviously a fantastic result.
But that’s not really what I wanted to write about today, it’s only what reminded me of what I wanted to say. Today I want to focus on why probation is often times not only best for my client, but best for society in general because it makes the community safer. A big part of my job is convincing the prosecutor, the judge, and even the crime victim and/or their family that probation is best for everyone. Probation often gets a label as a free pass, as “getting away with it.” In reality, however, probation is not that at all. Probation offers accountability, monitoring, treatment, and a path towards redemtion. All of this makes our society a better, safer place. As I point out all the time in court, prison only makes people angrier, meaner, more damaged criminals. When done correctly, probation is the opposite. Yes, there’s a punishment aspect. Fines, community service, time in jail as a condition of probation, et cetera are all ways to make sure the offender pays a price for what they did. Beyond that, the aim is to make sure that when they reenter society, they don’t go back to thwir old ways.
Whether it’s drug crimes, violent crimes, even sex crimes – treatment and close monitoring is better than storing a person in a cell for a few years (or even a lot of years) where they’ll only get worse.