As a parent, nothing is more heart-breaking than knowing that your child may face juvenile hall or jail and a possible criminal record. Often a young adult’s behavior is a reflection of severe inner turmoil and psychological distress, however, meaning that his or her legal troubles are symptomatic of other issues that require treatment, not jail. Fortunately, alternative sentencing may give your child or client an opportunity to heal without serving time in jail or juvenile detention and, in some cases, without generating a negative legal record.
What is Alternative Sentencing?
Alternative sentencing is not a “get out of jail free” card so much as it is an appropriate rehabilitative alternative to incarceration. There are many different forms of alternative sentencing, most of which provide alternatives to incarceration. This can include treatment programs, fines, probation, house arrest, restitution, community service, etc. Judges determine whether or not to impose alternative sentences based on the severity of the crime, the age of the defendant, and the defendant’s criminal history. In the case of young adults, especially those who have not acted violently, judges may determine that they would benefit from a treatment program instead of detention. If a defendant can prove to the judge that they have successfully completed a treatment program, the court will often expunge their criminal record. Forging Futures has experience working with parents, attorneys, mental health professionals, educators, and magistrates to provide the assessment and recommendations necessary to make a case for alternative sentencing where appropriate. Having therapeutic options that are vetted by our experts as appropriate for a given teen or young adult can help tilt a judgment from punitive sentencing to therapeutic treatment.
Alternative Sentencing Gives Youth a Second Chance
In recent years, behavioral research has shown that adolescents are cognitively different from both children and adults. Because their brains are in a state of rapid transformation, adolescents and young adults often lack the cognitive tools to appropriately assess risks, control impulses, or make proper judgments. In fact, most childhood development researchers agree that adolescents who have committed crimes are more likely to reform their behavior than adults. Therefore, giving certain young adults the chance to go through treatment can provide a critical second chance. As mentioned above, successfully completing treatment may even result in the court nullifying the young person’s criminal record altogether. This is often critical for future opportunities such as college admissions and employment. At Forging Futures we have experienced great therapeutic success with teens and young adults who were on the cusp of legal interventions.
Is an Alternative Sentence Right for My Child?
If your child or client is facing juvenile or adult legal charges and you feel he would benefit from treatment instead of incarceration or probation, Forging Futures can become part of the conversation you have with the court. Forging Futures will assess your child or client and, when appropriate, assure judges and magistrates that recommended treatment options are appropriate. We offer the additional assurance that the treatment process will supported by our clinical experts in order to maximize success.
Our staff is equipped to work alongside your family, attorney and the court with the goal of restoring harmony in your family’s life. We work closely with you to assess how your child reached this point and then determine the steps it will take to recover. We want to be your partner during this difficult period and give your child the chance to heal.