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Alternatives to incarceration for violent crimes

Some federal prisoners in Ohio might have their sentences reduced by the First Step Act, which became law in 2018. However, the reach of this legislation is limited. Incarcerated people who are not federal prisoners are not eligible, and it only applies to nonviolent offenders.

While many people who have committed violent crimes should remain imprisoned as a matter of public safety, this isn't the case with all offenders. It is possible for someone to be charged with simple assault without actually doing physical harm to a person. Furthermore, not all offenders incarcerated for violent offenses are in serious danger of recidivism.

The prison population reached a high in 2008, and this was followed by an effort to reform police departments and decriminalize offenses. The result was a drop to 830 inmates per 100,000 adults from 1,000 inmates per 100,000 adults. However, there are still a number of avenues that offer alternatives to incarceration while remaining mindful of safety. After all, longer prison sentences may actually increase the likelihood of recidivism.

New York City has had a particularly successful record of reducing its prison population through alternative programs run by courts, nonprofits and prosecutors. For example, one program returns offenders with mental illness to the community. Participants have a 29 percent lower rate of reoffending compared to similar defendants not in the program.

Regardless of how serious the charges may be, an attorney could help a defendant. The criminal justice system can be complex, and even what seems like relatively minor offenses may sometimes have significant consequences. However, it is a lawyer's job to the fight for the client's rights.

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