New Sentencing Program Questions

The new Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI) program is up and running, and we've gotten a few questions about it already.

See Brian's December 10 post for the basic facts of the program.

Question: Do crime victims have a say in whether a criminal defendant gets the benefit of a RRRI sentence?

Answer: Crime victims cannot prevent a RRRI sentence if the offender is eligible. However, if the Judge and the prosecutor both agree to waive an offender's ineligibility, the crime victim has the absolute right to prior notice from the prosecutor and also has the right to object to the judge. Although the judge may still impose a RRRI minimum, crime victims have the right to be heard.

Question: Can the Judge or the DA change their minds about a RRRI waiver once somebody comes up for parole?

Answer: The sentencing judge loses jurisdiction over the case thirty days after the sentencing, and in that sense, the judge can't 'take back' the RRRI minimum. However, Act 83 of 2008 provides that a judge or a prosecutor can make an argument to the parole board that a potential parolee is no longer eligible for parole at the RRRI minimum for a number of reasons, for example, if new information about a previously unknown prior conviction has come to light.

The new RRRI sentencing program is a huge benefit not only for convicted persons, but for society as a whole. It allows the taxpayers to save a whole lot of money while ensuring that only certain classes of offenders who have good behavior can get out early. As a new program, this will generate a lot of questions from the public, from criminal defendants, and their loved ones. Keep your questions coming, and we'll do our best to answer them.