Are There Any Alternative Punishments to Jail Time?

Interviewer: I’ve heard about alternative punishments to jail. What are some of these alternative punishments to jail that someone may qualify for that you could help get them into?

Zach Peagler: Well, particularly in misdemeanor cases in Alabama now, most jurisdictions have some sort of alternative dispute resolution, for lack of a better term, or a deferred prosecution type of agreement where instead of forcing the state to take every case to trial, they’ll have a program that will allow the person to do things that address the crime that they are alleged to have committed, and keep it off of their record. In an alcohol- or drug-related offense, there are programs where they can do drug and alcohol counseling and be monitored for a period of time to make sure that they’re not still using illegal drugs or using alcohol, and they can do some community service and things that benefit the community much more so than just having someone incarcerated or having them on probation.

It’s a win-win for both the city or state or federal government and the defendant. They’re not getting off scot-free. They have to leave some blood on the altar, for lack of a better term, by doing community service and ensuring that they’re receiving the appropriate level of treatment if they have an addiction. Then the carrot for them is, if they do the things that the government asks them to do, they can avoid having a criminal history.

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