The Redemptive Plan
Note: This plan is not final and is subject to revision to meet the interest of all parties that would be affected.
One of the “dead zones” contributing to the high cost of incarceration is the “over incarceration” of a select group of offenders who no longer pose a threat to the community. This select group of offenders are first time offenders who were sentenced to life in prison at a young age. In the sentencing judges effort to balance the need for incarceration with the hope for rehabilitation, in essence “predict the future,” the offender’s parole/extended supervision eligibility was set to a predetermined date in the future. That date usually ranged anywhere from 30 to 60 years. Such a date left little to no room for rehabilitation because they would be a “senior citizen” before they even got the chance to redeem their criminal actions.
Young adult offenders, who are still impressionable because of their undeveloped brain, are more receptive to rehabilitation than the average “career criminal.” Therefore a first time young adult offender–who has been incarcerated over 20 years–has more of a chance to succeed upon release than those with prior convictions. So what happens to the young adult offenders who have completed all their program needs, has adequate to good institution behavior, and still have many, many years to serve before being eligible for release? They fall into the “dead zone” and can be considered “over incarcerated.”
The “dead zone” is the area between the judicial and executive branches of government where young, first time, adult offenders who are ready to be productive citizens of their community sit and wait for decades to be released. Due to the fact that the judge (judicial branch) extended the offender’s eligibility for release to a predetermined date far in the future, the WDOC (executive branch) has no choice but to “over incarcerate” the offender by law. This amounts to unnecessary cost for incarceration.
The purpose of this Redemptive Plan is to create harmony between the legislative and executive branches of government and the needs of the young adult offender. Our goal is to show that it is possible to protect the public while at the same time provide the opportunity for rehabilitation. The essence of this Redemptive Plan is to give these “first time offenders” who were sentenced to life in prison at a young age, another chance to become productive members of their community.
The primary objective of the Redemption Program is to provide first time offenders in WDOC, who have been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole extended beyond 30 years, an opportunity to petition the court for a modification of their parole/extended supervision date.
The following eligibility requirements for the Redemption Program are designed to establish a high criteria that would reduce the risk for the eligible offender to re-offend:
• Must be serving tirne for first offense.
• Has served over 20 years in prison.
• Was convicted between the ages of 16 and 25.
• Has adequate institution adjustment over the past 5 years, including but limited to: o Less than 3 majors. o Less than 6 minors, o Maintained stable institution employment.
• Will not be eligible for parole within the next 10 years.
• Has completed all institutional needs.
Process & Procedure–
The process of seeking a modification under this plan can only be initiated by an eligible offender attending a regularly scheduled Program Review Committee hearing.
A. PHASE ONE
The first phase of this Redemptive Plan involves the active participation of the offender seeking relief under this plan.
Offender Duties and Functions. Every offender seeking to file for a sentence modification under this plan must complete the following task before requesting relief under this plan:
• Have a complete detailed release plan;
• A statement of accountability for the crime charged; and
• Detail three reasons why they think they should receive a sentence modification.
A legible copy of each task must be given to PRC when a request for consideration for a sentence modification is made under this plan.
B. PHASE TWO
The second phase of this Redemptive Plan requires the involvement of the following department or agencies within the executive branch:
Program Review Committee Office of Victim Services Office of the Attorney General Earned Release Review Committee
Program Review Committee (PRC). The primary duties and functions of PRC are to assess the rehabilitative potential of each offender. That assessment shall include, but not be limited to, determining which offenders meet the eligibility requirements cf this plan, and make a written recommendation opposing or supporting a modification of the offender’s sentence. The PRC’s recommendation should include, but not be limited to:
• A description of the crime for which the offender is convicted;
• The degree of the offender’s acceptance of responsibility;
• The offender’s involvement with voluntary institutional programs;
• Whether or not they completed the Restorative Justice program;
• A description if the offender’s completed institutional needs;
• An evaluation of the offender’s institutional adjustment over the past five years; and
• The offender’s release plan.
A copy of the PRC’s recommendation, along with all written documents provided by the offender, shall be forwarded to the Office of Victim Services, the Office of the Attorney General, and Earned Release Review Committee. A copy of PRC’s recommendation shall also be forwarded to the offender.
Office of Victim Services (OVS). The primary duties and functions of OVS are to provide a written assessment of the victim’s feedback regarding the offender’s adjustment while in prison, and the possibility of a sentence modification. That assessment should include, but not be limited to, the gravity of the offense, its impact on the community, and a recommendation from the victim’s advocate concerning the offender’s eligibility for a possible sentence modification under this plan. The victim’s advocate shall be allowed to review the recommendation of PRC. The recommendation from the victim’s advocate should include, but not be limited to:
• Whether they support/oppose the modification of the offender’s sentence;
• The reason they support/oppose the modification of the offenders sentence;
• Specify any needs they would like to see the offender meet now or in the future; and
• Any additional comments the victim’s advocate has to offer.
A copy of this recommendation should be sent to the institution where the offender is currently housed, the Office of the Attorney General, EERC, and the offender.
Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The primary duties and functions of the attorney general are to assess a reasonable legal solution toward preventing over-incarceration. The OAG’s assessment should involve a thorough review of PRC’s and OVS’s recommendations of for each case. A letter indicating whether or not a motion for modification of sentence under this plan would be supported or opposed shall be forwarded to EERC and to all invested parties.
Earned Release Review Committee (ERRC). The duties and functions of the ERRC under this plan would be to assess the offender’s criminogenic factors and risk to re-offend. The EERC’s assessment shall include, but not be limited to, a review the offenders release plan, and the recommendations of PRC, OVS, and OAG. A copy of the EERC’s final recommendation shall be forwarded to the court where the offender was sentenced and to all invested parties.
C. PHASE THREE
The third phase of this Redemptive Plan requires the involvement of the judicial branch; specifically the circuit courts in each county in the state, where eligible offenders must file their motions for modification.
Eligible offenders who receive a favorable recommendations from PRC, ERRC, OVS, and the Attorney General for a possible sentence modification under this plan may file a motion within the circuit court where they were convicted.
Circuit Court. The duties and functions of the circuit court concerning sentence modifications filed under this plan are discretionary. The court shall consider the recommendations of all invested parties when deciding to grant or deny a sentence modification filed under this plan. The grounds to grant or deny a motion for sentence
modification should include, but not be limited to, a thorough re-examination of the same sentencing standards considered at the first sentencing hearing balanced with the rehabilitative potential of each offender.
At the sentencing judges discretion a discretionary hearing may be held so the judge can evaluate the demeanor and appearance of the offender, and hear testimony from all invested parties including the defendant.
Any decision made by the court must be made in writing within 90 days after the motion is filed. A copy of the courts written decision must be delivered to all invested parties.
Any offender desiring to appeal the denial of a sentence modification motion may be taken under the same appeal procedures available for a standard sentence modification motion.
Ivy J. Carter (#206034) Columbia Corr. Inst. P.O. Box 900 Portage, WI 53901-0900
For more information go to: http://www.prisonforum.org