How Online Sentencing Alternatives Can Benefit a Community
Advent eLearning has become a go-to resource for prosecutors, probation officers, judges, sheriffs and other organizations across the nation. Advent offers a range of eLearning programs with one goal in mind: to make it easier for agencies to focus on their primary task at hand—promoting accountability for their clients, assisting them in making the right choices for their futures, and improving their communities as a whole. Over 300 local government agencies across the nation are making use of Advent’s eLearning programs. Here is a look at how Advent eLearning is helping one of our clients to reach their goals.
The Madison County Attorney’s Office
Madison County is located in central Kentucky, with the population centered around its county seat, Richmond. The county seat is also home to Eastern Kentucky University. The Attorney’s Office currently has 26 employees, 13 of which work on the prosecution side. Richmond has experienced a growth in population, and the county has become increasingly urban over the years. Madison County is also in close proximity to the Lexington metropolitan area. In addition, I-75 runs through the city, bringing in a constant influx of people.
“Madison County is ranked 9th in population among Kentucky counties, but we are close to being the 4th highest in caseloads in the state.” explained Madison County Attorney, Jennie Haymond. “Our dockets are loaded. Around 2,200 cases pass through the court system per month. The county also deals with around 70 felonies per week.” In addition, Richmond is a college town, so the county has to deal with many young offenders who have a lot at stake.
According to Haymond, Madison County offered limited options for diversion programs and alternative sentencing in the past. “The options had typically consisted of things like community service. The county wasn’t seeing a benefit to this alternative sentencing or an improvement in statistics, causing this type of sentencing to be viewed as largely ineffective.”
Madison County needed a way to implement sentencing alternatives based on therapeutic principles—principles that allowed offenders a chance to rehabilitate and reflect on their actions in place of traditional sentencing, which further loads court dockets, increases inmate populations, and heightens the risk of recidivism.
Madison County has chosen Advent eLearning for all of their alternative sentencing needs. According to Haymond, the path toward using an eLearning program wasn’t always the easiest. “Initially, several members of the county judicial system were skeptical and somewhat resistant to the County Attorney’s office implementing eLearning programs as alternative sentencing options. They were less eager to proceed.” Nevertheless, Haymond has worked hard to expand Madison County’s use of alternative sentencing, and Advent has consistently proven to be an effective and successful alternative sentencing option for the county.
The Attorney’s Office typically uses Advent eLearning as alternative sentencing for misdemeanors and first-time or low-level offenders, but it has also proven useful in a variety of other instances: “We use Advent’s programs in a number of ways. We often integrate Advent as part of a plea deal, in which completing an Advent eLearning program such as Anger Management is supplemented as part of the plea agreement.”
Advent’s wide range of programs allows alternative sentencing to be recommended in an incredibly wide range of circumstances. “We make use of nearly every program Advent offers. One of our favorites is the Corrective Thinking program. Corrective Thinking is typically used when there is no related program for specific offenses, like disorderly conduct.” Advent’s Corrective Thinking program is designed to help the offender break down their thought patterns and consider their behaviors in a new light, opening up opportunities for change.
The Impact on the Broader Community
Madison County has seen a multitude of benefits from Advent. Advent’s eLearning program eliminates barriers for offenders to make amends with their situations. Since people work and have plenty of other obligations, Advent offers a convenient solution that guarantees individuals get the attention they need and an opportunity to begin correcting their behaviors.
“Even for those without access to the Internet, the Madison County Public Library has proved a great resource for offenders who need to complete the program but lack the resources at home.” explained Haymond. “When it comes to alternative sentencing programs in a classroom-style setting, you’ll typically have a much higher chance of people not showing up. Advent eliminates that barrier.”
“Advent is also especially helpful for the younger demographic who are already comfortable with technology. Advent eLearning is a really effective option for them.” eLearning offers young offenders a more straightforward path to make amends with their situation and to correct their behaviors. Richmond is also a college town, so Advent opens up new opportunities for young offenders who have much at stake, such as losing their financial aid in the face of a criminal trial.
A Word from the County Attorney
“If you’re unsure about whether or not an alternative sentencing program like Advent is right for you, I would reach out to Advent to set up a meeting and walk through the programs. It’s a great program, and I don’t know why every county isn’t using it. Alternative sentencing isn’t just a benefit for your office… it benefits your whole community as well.”
Criminal activity is typically borne out of negative circumstances—not offering certain offenders more therapeutic options in place of traditional sentencing plays a part in perpetuating a cycle of crime throughout the community. Providing sentencing alternatives like Advent is a great step toward creating a better, more educated, and safer community.