Every judge may have his or her own methods for modeling and constructing a sentencing roadmap, but the important thing is that the strategies and sanctions work together. Judges can build an effective sentencing roadmap if they:
Recognize high BAC as an indicator of
- HCDD Indicates a higher likelihood of
- alcohol abuse A higher likelihood of repeat behavior, and
- Accounts for 58 percent of drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes
Monitor plea agreements and sentencing
- Plea agreements limit the criminal justice system’s ability to identify hardcore drunk drivers and recidivists.
- May allow offender to avoid alcohol education, screening for alcohol dependence, referral for treatment.
- Ensure appropriate sanctions.
- Alcohol-related charge must be retained.
Restrict diversion programs
- Diversion programs limit the criminal justice system’s ability to identify hardcore drunk drivers and recidivists.
- May allow repeat offenders to be classified as a first offender many times.
- Programs allowing a dismissal of charges after completion of treatment programs not shown to reduce recidivism.
- Dilutes deterrent value of the arrest.
Consider pretrial intensive supervision programs
- Protects public during lengthy delays between arrest and trial.
- Voluntary program allows for pretrial treatment with early
- intervention. Offers reduced jail time for successful completion.
- More intensive supervision of probationers.
- Smaller caseload per probation officer.
- Is effective and may reduce jail overcrowding.
Utilize offender evaluation
- Reduces recidivism 7-9 percent, research shows.
- Critical—determines timing and type of sanctions and treatment needed to reduce recidivism.
- Screening and assessment effectiveness is maximized when done as soon as possible after arrest so sanctions and recovery can begin.
- Include mental health evaluation whenever possible to address co-occurring disorders.
Conduct pre-sentence evaluations
- A criminogenic risk/needs assessment should be conducted to determine risk of re- offending.
- Enables judge to review the offender’s record, the previous sanctions imposed and the offender’s compliance history.
- Enables judge to choose the correct sanctions to reduce recidivism and protect the public while imposing rehabilitation requirements to treat the offender for alcohol problems.
Recognize the impact of fines
- Minimal deterrent value, no behavioral change.
- Use as incentive to change offender behavior.
- Excessive fines often do not get assessed.
Introduce measures to reduce failure-to-appear
- Reduces the court’s ability to determine guilt and impose sanctions for DWI offenders
- 22 percent of DWI defendants fail to appear during some point in their case.
- 65 percent of prosecutors and a majority of judges believe failure to appear is more common among hardcore repeat offenders.
Employ the use of vehicle sanctions
- Separates the offending drivers from their vehicles.
- Principal methods are vehicle impoundment, vehicle immobilization (reduce recidivism by 40-70 percent), license plate confiscation and vehicle forfeiture.
Order the installation of offender-funded ignition interlock
- 75% to 88% offenders drive while suspended for DWI convictions.
- Interlocks reduce offender recidivism by up to 90% while the device is on the offender’s vehicle.
- A popular, effective and relatively inexpensive mechanism for allowing the hardcore offender to drive with restrictions.
- Should be coupled with other individualized sanctions such as treatment to achieve long-term reductions in recidivism.
Order intensive monitoring, supervision and probation for hardcore offenders
- Reduces recidivism by 50%.
- Key to post-conviction management of drunk driving offenders.
- Long-term probation is one of the most effective ways to manage hardcore drunk drivers following a conviction.
- Intensive supervised probation holds the offender accountable for sentence completion and responsible, law abiding behavior.
- Reduces likelihood of offenders meeting other criminals in jail and offers an incentive to work or attend educational or treatment programs.
Consider staggered sentencing with intensive probation
- Staggered sentencing splits an offender’s jail sentence in three segments.
- After the first segment of incarceration is completed, the offender is on intensive supervision probation for a year.
- If completed successfully, the offender serves the second segment on intensive supervision probation.
- If completed successfully, the last portion is also served on intensive supervision probation.
- Success in certain areas of supervision can make an offender eligible to apply to reduce or forego parts of the next period of incarceration.
Consider home confinement with electronic and alcohol monitoring
- Reduces recidivism by 33 percent.
- Exerts more control on the offender’s behavior and freedom than regular probation.
- Not a sentence in and of itself, but may be a condition of probation, parole or supervised release, as well as a condition of pretrial release.
Utilize dedicated detention facilities
- Reduces recidivism by 75 percent.
- Offers a sentencing alternative for multiple DWI offenders and helps ease overcrowding at traditional correctional facilities.
- Offers potential for behavioral change.
- Provides confinement in conjunction with supervised alcohol treatment services that can include DWI driver education and individual counseling.
Supplement incarceration with treatment and aftercare
- Studies suggest that as a specific deterrent, jail terms are no more effective than other sanctions in reducing DWI recidivism among either first-time or repeat offenders.
- Lengthy sentences are not associated with lower recidivism among repeat offenders.
Avoid substituting community service for harsher sanctions
- Has little beneficial effect on hardcore offenders.
- Does not address underlying patterns responsible for alcohol abuse. Does not create behavioral change.
Judges should also support:
- State laws setting look-back periods a minimum of 10 years.
- Statewide tracking and recordkeeping.
- Effective case flow management.