September 3, 2014 By Wallin & Klarich

The city of San Diego introduced a “split sentencing” program in an effort to reduce the number of repeat criminal offenders. Split sentencing provides offenders with the opportunity to spend part of their sentence in jail and the remainder in supervised rehabilitation within the community. As early signs begin to point to a reduction in San Diego’s recidivism rate, other counties are beginning to take note and preparing to follow suit. 1

The Details of Split Sentencing Programs

Established through a joint effort between the court, law enforcement, probation department and the district attorney and public defender offices, the program will provide participants with a variety of resources. These resources, which include substance abuse treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy and vocational therapy, are offered in order to supply offenders the necessary skills to cope with their mandatory supervision and to ensure that they do not reoffend in the future.

As part of the collaborative effort, judges remain closely involved in the progress of the inmates as well. Judges often talk to the offenders about receiving their GED while in custody or reiterate the importance of attending their treatment or therapy. Christine Brown-Taylor, the reentry services manager at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, favors this hands-on approach over incarcerating the individual without providing him or her resources to recover.

“You can’t measure the impact [the program] has on the individual in an empowering away, a motivating way, to continue with that positive direction, versus sitting in jail and doing nothing” Brown-Taylor said. 2

While the split sentencing program is relatively new to San Diego, the results thus far have been promising. As of the end of last month, over 600 offenders have had their sentences split between jail and supervised rehab. Although she has yet to obtain the full data, San Diego County deputy district attorney Lisa Rodriguez believes that the recidivism rate for those under mandatory supervision is half as high as the offenders who spent their entire sentence behind bars.

Speaking on the matter, Rodriguez said, “It really requires that you have a collaborative team who is willing to engage in it…I think overall we all can feel its working.” 3

What Wallin & Klarich Think

The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich fully support the idea of split sentencing and feel it should be adopted throughout the entire state. If the county wants criminal offenders to turn their lives around, they should supply individuals with the proper tools to do so. Treating criminal offenders as individuals rather than a mere statistic will undoubtedly decrease the rate at which these individuals reoffend and will better society as a whole.

What Do You Think?

This is a complex issue that has individuals from all over California weighing in on what they think is best for the state. What are your thoughts? Do you think split sentencing is the best option for criminal offenders? Or, do you feel as if those who have broken the law should serve their entire sentence behind bars. We would love to hear your opinion on this topic.

1. [Los Angeles Daily Journal, “New Split Sentence Court Making an Impact” – August 25, 2014]

2. [Id.]

3. [Id.]

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