The Justice Imperative: Avoiding Incarceration Through “No-Entry” Diversion Programs
Robert returned home to Hartford after serving three tours of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged. He was awarded the Purple Heart for severe head injuries he suffered during a roadside mine explosion in which some of his comrades died. Following his return, Robert had significant difficulty adjusting to civilian life. He experienced severe depression and unpredictable episodes of explosive anger. As a military veteran, he was too ashamed to seek counseling. Robert attempted to alleviate his symptoms through the use of alcohol and drugs. He was arrested for driving erratically at a high rate of speed at 2 a.m. in the morning. A search conducted incident to the arrest found empty bottles of vodka in the back seat and a small amount of cocaine in Robert’s pocket. He is concerned that his arrest and a conviction will cause him to lose his veterans’ benefits.
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Jocelyn is the single parent of three children under the age of 10 years. She lives in New Haven. She is a licensed health care worker. Jocelyn has no prior criminal record. She divorced her first husband after their youngest child was born. Since that time, her boyfriend Jordan has been living with Jocelyn and the children in her home as a fully engaged father figure to her children. Things were going extremely well in her life. However, three months prior to the incident that would cause Jocelyn’s arrest, Jordan was shot and killed in the crossfire of a gang dispute. He was an innocent bystander. Since his death, Jocelyn battled depression and insomnia. She started smoking marijuana at night to help numb the pain of her loss and to sleep. One particular evening, she caused a car accident resulting in injuries to the driver of another car. When police searched her car, she was found to be in possession of marijuana. She was released on bond, but the prosecutor is insisting that any plea bargain must involve jail time. Jocelyn will lose both her stable housing and employment. She is worried that if she is incarcerated, her children will be placed in DCF custody, causing them further emotional trauma after Jordan’s recent death.
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Eduardo is a 49 years old citizen of Guatemalan living in Hartford. He has a green card. He and his family, including his children, have been living in the U.S. for 15 years. His children were born in the United States and therefore are U.S. citizens. Eduardo is arrested for public intoxication, providing liquor to a minor and breach of peace. He is referred to the Hartford Community Court docket. He is told that if he enters a guilty plea and completes the community service as required by the court, his guilty plea will then be vacated in 30 days and he will not have a record. He is concerned that this court process will cause him to be deported to Guatemala without his family.
See More: Please go to Chapter Ten in “The Justice Imperative”