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What are the alternatives to incarceration for minors?

From the phone call to the court date, the time after your kid has been arrested is filled with anxiety. No parent wants to see their child throw their future away with time in juvenile detention centers. Fortunately second chances are easier to come by for kids under 18 and there are alternatives to incarceration. Some possible alternatives include treatment programs, probation, community programs, and more. There are alternatives available for each step of the way including detention prior to conviction, the justice system process itself, and the resulting jail time.

Alternatives to detention while awaiting the court date

After a minor is arrested they can be placed in a juvenile detention center to await the jurisdiction. In some cases a minor can be safely supervised while the trial is pending instead. A lot of factors go into this decision including the level of the offense, if they have a prior record, and stability in their home life.

In order to qualify for staying at home rather than going to a detention center the child has to stay out of trouble and go to school or work. If they get to avoid juvenile detention then they have to follow these and any other rules set in place (such as a curfew).

Alternatives to processing through the justice system

There are a lot of ways to avoid justice system processing for minors no matter how severe their offense. Typically alternatives are offered to first time offenders, non-violent offenders, and special cases where they have mental health or substance problems. These are taken on a case by case basis.

Alternatives to time sentenced in a long-term juvenile detention center

There are a lot of options for avoiding the time sentenced to a long-term juvenile detention center (JDC). Many times alternatives can be offered in lieu of time. The judge usually has quite a bit of wiggle room in the decision. Some alternatives include:

  • Counseling
  • Community-based programs
  • House-arrest or electronic monitoring
  • Probation
  • Paying fines

The minor will be required to participate in the chosen program for a certain amount of time. They will need to contribute to any community service that has been requested. They have to be careful to make all of their appointments with a probation officer, get to school, and pay fines. There might be strict rules that a judge offers in order for them to quality for a community-based program. Such requirements might include admitting guilt to the crime, drug testing, and staying out of trouble. Your family has the right to an attorney and this is the best time to present a strong case that your kid would benefit from an alternative option.

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