Author: blanche

Bill Proposes to Seal RAP Sheets

One of the least discussed issues when contemplating a plea bargain between a client and his or her attorney is the effect of a criminal conviction, regardless of classification and whether jail or prison time is served, post-sentencing. People with criminal convictions routinely have trouble obtaining employment, housing, and credit because of their past criminal conduct.

Particularly with the Internet and publication of even simple arrests for low level crimes, prior defendants are haunted by their past criminal conduct until death. A bill being considered in the California State Legislature proposes to address this issue by automatically sealing from public view the criminal records of a defendant once he or she has completed a prison or jail sentence and probation or parole conditions.

Just How Bad is the Problem?

The U.S. Justice Department and the National Institute of Justice conducted a study and found that having a criminal record reduced the chance of getting a job or callback from a prospective employer by 50%. Juxtaposed with the fact that one in three Americans has a criminal record, getting any job is difficult for individuals with criminal records. In California, eight million people have criminal records.  

California has been engaged in an initiative to overhaul its criminal justice system. Just last year, a law was passed to eliminate bail. Too many people are unable to put their lives back together again after they have served their time and have not committed any future crimes.

Mechanics of the Bill

The proposed Criminal Records Bill, would apply retroactively and automatically seal the rap sheets of people whose crimes are specified in the statute. Law enforcement agencies and deep background checks for certain positions would still be able to access the records but members of the public, including potential landlords and employers will no longer have access to arrest and conviction records.

Additionally, some violent crimes, like murder or rape, would not be subject to seal. The California Justice Department would still be able to contest the automatic sealing of a criminal record, but misdemeanors and non-violent crimes will be shielded.

Charged with a Crime in Los Angeles?

Under current law, individuals in California with misdemeanors or low-level felony convictions are able to request that their criminal records be sealed. For morning information about current law, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to review your prior convictions.

Call us for a free review of your criminal case and begin your immediate legal representation. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has two convenient locations in the greater Los Angeles area available to assist you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528 and schedule an appointment in our Beverly Hills or Encino office.

Pretrial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California, Part II

This is part II of an in-depth exploration of California’s pretrial diversion program under PC §1000 for certain drug offenses.

As stated in our last post, California’s pretrial diversion program is available for individuals accused of drugs crimes involving simple possession under California Penal Code §1000. Individuals arrested for low-level crimes are able to pursue drug treatment and education in lieu of jail time for resolution of their criminal charges.

What Drugs are Covered Under the PC §1000 Pretrial Diversion Program?

The types of drugs covered by PC §1000 are as follows:

  • Cocaine;
  • Ecstasy (“X”);
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”);
  • Heroin;
  • Certain hallucinogenic substances, like asphencyclidine (“PCP”);
  • Ketamine (“Special K”);
  • Marijuana; and
  • Prescription opioids such as codeine and hydrocodone (“Vicodin”)
  • Peyote.

Factors Considered by Court When Offering Pretrial Diversion

An accused person is assessed by the court, not so much for the type of substance at issue, but whether the possession of the drug was for personal use. If the amount of drug seized at arrest is for personal use only, regardless of the type of drug, the court will determine whether the accused person would benefit from drug treatment. If the answer to both questions is a yes, an accused person can avoid jail and a jail sentence following the successful completion of drug treatment court.

Will I be Required to Take a Drug Test During Pretrial Diversion?

Yes. Regular drug testing is generally a requirement for program participation. A failed drug test can lead to an extension of program participation or being kicked-out of drug treatment and proceeding to a bench trial.

The purposes of drug testing in the California criminal justice system are to screen for persons who have recently ingested a drug, to identify chronic drug users, and to monitor and deter drug use. Most tests used to determine the presence of drugs in an individual’s body involve urinalysis.

An accused person can also be kicked out of drug treatment court if he or she is convicted of any felony, violent offense, or an offense with the propensity for violence, or he or she fails to meet a condition of program participation, like drug testing and drug treatment classes.

Addiction is Not a Crime but can Lead to Them

Drug abuse and crime continue to be linked in the minds of the public. A person arrested for simple drug possession because he or she is battling drug addiction can receive help for their addiction in drug treatment court or California’s pretrial diversion program for drug offenders. Our criminal defense lawyers specialize in drug related offenses and could significantly reduce the penalties associated with a drug possession arrest. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino available to help you or a loved one facing criminal charges in Los Angeles. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


Pretrial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California, Part I

California offers pretrial diversion for drug crimes involving simple possession under California Penal Code §1000. Instead of jail time, certain individuals arrested for low-level drug crimes are able to pursue drug treatment and education. Following successful completion of drug treatment court, the criminal charges are dismissed, eliminating the person’s criminal record with respect to that charge.

Before January 1, 2018, the pretrial diversion program was known as deferred entry of judgment. Under the old law, an accused person was required to enter a guilty plea to the drug charge in order to participate in the drug diversion program. If the accused person completed the program, the charges would be dismissed. If the accused person failed to complete the program, the conviction would stand.

Modification to Pretrial Diversion Program

On January 1, 2018, participation in the PC §1000 diversion program was reclassified as a pretrial diversion program. This means that the accused person now pleads “not guilty” to the drug charge and is then permitted to participate in drug treatment.

Like the former deferred entry of judgment program, if the accused person successfully completes the drug treatment program, the charge will be dismissed. If the accused person is unsuccessful, he or she will stand trial and undergo a bench trial. A bench trial means the case is heard and decided by a judge only and the accused person no longer has the right to a trial by jury.  

Eligibility for PC §1000 Diversion

Only individuals charged with simple possession of drugs – for personal use only – are eligible for PC §1000 pretrial diversion. If there are other charges for selling or transporting controlled substances or possession of controlled substances for sale, the individual will not be eligible for pretrial diversion under the California Penal Code, even if the individual is a first-time offender.

The individual charged with simple possession of drugs must meet the following conditions to qualify for drug treatment court:

The accused person must not have been convicted of a non-PC §1000 eligible drug crime within the previous five years;

  • The charged offense must not be violent or have threatened violence;
  • There must be no evidence of any additional and more serious drug offenses related to the arrest, like additional charges for drug possession for sale or drug sale crimes); and
  • The accused person must not have any felony convictions within the proceeding 5 years.

Pretrial Diversion Program Specifics

The pretrial diversion program for certain drug offenses can last between 12 and 18 months. Depending on the individual circumstance of the case however, the program period may be longer. Under the new law, prior participation in a PC §1000 program is no longer a disqualifier for participation in a new PC §1000, so long as no prior felony conviction within the preceding five-year period.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer with Pretrial Diversion Experience in California’s Criminal Justice System

An arrest for simple drug possession does not have to ruin your life. While not easy, drug treatment court offers an opportunity to obtain treatment and get counseling for drug addiction. If successful, you will be on your way to recovery and have the added benefit of no longer having a criminal record associated with the simple drug possession arrest. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt with two locations in the greater Los Angeles area has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorneytoday to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


Marijuana Possession Crimes in California, Part I

Beginning in 1996, California’s marijuana laws changed with the decriminalization of possession of marijuana (if under 28.5 grams) and legalization of medical marijuana. In 2016, with the passage of Proposition 64, personal marijuana consumption became legal in certain circumstances. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act came into effect on January 1, 2018. Under this law, adults 21 and over may purchase, possess, and consume marijuana so long as its up to 28.5 grams and it is possessed and used in their private residence or in an establishment licensed for marijuana consumption.

California’s Marijuana Possession Laws

In California, it is illegal and chargeable for any person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, and that includes marijuana. (See Business & Professions Code §26000, et. seq. and Health & Safety Code §11000 et. seq., §11357 et. seq., and §11362.7 et. seq.)

However, in California, recreational use of marijuana became legal on January 1, 2018, with the passage of Proposition 64. People age 21 and over may now possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. People may also grow up to six plants for their personal use, subject to restrictions.  

Individuals who exceed these amounts can be charged with a misdemeanor and punished with a fine of up to $500 and/or incarceration for up to six months of time in county jail. Individuals under age 21 can be charged with an infraction if they possess marijuana and be sentenced to a fine (if at least 18 years of age) or to drug counseling or community service (if under 18 years of age).

Simple Possession vs. Possession With Intent to Distribute

Simple possession is considered the lowest category of a drug offense and relates to possession for personal use. Possession with intent to distribute relates to charges involving packaging and distribution of drugs commercially.

Actual vs. Constructive Possession

Possession of drugs can be actual or constructive. Actual possession in Los Angeles, California means that the substance is in the physical custody of the person being charged with possession. For example, the drugs are found in the person’s pocket or hand. Constructive possession means that the drugs are within the dominion and control or reach of the accused person. For example, the drugs are in the person’s backpack.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer With Marijuana Crimes Experience

Los Angeles drug statutes and the various drug schedules and classifications are intricate and complicated. It is important for a person charged with a drug crime to have the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles, CA drug lawyer to navigate through the California criminal justice system and work collaboratively toward proving reasonable doubt and ultimately resolving the criminal case. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


The California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act

Criminal Profiteering in California mirrors the federal charge of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), and is intended to penalize a pattern of criminal behavior stemming from organized crime. Otherwise called California Control of Profits of Organized Crime, being charged under this statute is serious and should be treated as such.

While there are meritorious defenses to criminal profiteering, note that prosecutors tend to use these charges mainly when communities are riddled with organized crime. Learn more about the Act and how to prepare your defense of these allegations.

What is Considered Criminal Profiteering Activity?

Chapter 9 of the California Penal Code discusses criminal profiteering in great detail, including what activity must transpire in order for charges to be filed. With organized crime being the common denominator in many charges filed under Chapter 9, the burden of proof is much stronger for prosecutors, which is the reason these charges are reserved for when there is absolute certainty.

Organized crime is defined as that which is conspiratorial in nature, with activity ranging from prostitution, illegal loans (loan sharking), narcotic sales and gambling, to mayhem (as defined in Section 203), pimping and pandering, grand theft, welfare fraud, fraud against California’s beverage container program, and even forcing those under 18 to commit the above offenses. In all, CPC lists 34 crimes.

Any combination of two crimes within a 10-year period with the intent to financially benefit a criminal organization can be charged as criminal profiteering. Once filed, prosecution will file a Verified Petition for Asset Forfeiture along with charges indicative of the crime committed.

Penalties and Defenses to Criminal Profiteering

When imposing penalties, prosecutors are more interested in stopping the flow of money. Therefore, placing state liens on property, bank accounts and other assets which “dirty” money purchased seems the best remedy. The financial trial normally happens after the criminal portion takes place, however.

Sentencing in the criminal trial depends on the crimes that contributed to the ill-gotten gains. Expect the penalties to range between probation and years behind bars, depending on the seriousness of crime and one’s past record.

There are some situations in which individuals may own property that was used in criminal profiteering activity, but did not actually commit the crime. After the trials are over, the property owner must petition the government to remove liens or take back control of their property.

Defenses to criminal profiteering include not knowing the activity was taking place on the property or within a shared bank account, defendant was not near the crimes when they took place, and others.

Defendants Should Retain Counsel

Accusations of criminal profiteering have serious implications for one’s freedom, property, and other assets. If you have been charged with this and any subsequent offenses, your future depends on what criminal defense you choose.

So many defenses to profiteering exist that you may actually beat your charges. To preserve your assets and keep your criminal record clean, contact an attorney the minute you have been accused or are under investigation for criminal profiteering or similar offenses.


How is DNA Profiling Used in California?

In 1953, the double helix, the twisted-ladder like structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”) was discovered by scientists James Watson and Francis Crick. DNA is a self-replicating material present in all human beings as the main part of their chromosomes. This material is important because it carries an individual’s unique genetic information.

DNA profiling was originally developed as a method to determine paternity. It was used to link a parent to a child. It was first used in court in 1986 during a criminal trial to exonerate a 17-year-old teen who  confessed to two rape-murders in England. The DNA tests proved that the actual attacker was someone else, not the teen. Even though the teen confessed to both rape-murders, he was exonerated because they were able to prove that it was not his DNA found at the crime scene or on the victims.

In the United States, the first use of DNA profiling to support a conviction occurred in 1987 in Orange County, Florida. Tommy Lee Andrews, was convicted of rape after DNA tests matched his DNA, from a blood sample, with that of semen traces found in the rape victim.

What is DNA Profiling?

DNA profiling was considered a breakthrough in forensic science. For the first time, law enforcement was able to use technology to identify an accused person and link or connect that person to a crime based on the presence of genetic material at the crime scene. This same genetic material can also be used to exonerate an wrongfully-charged person. Practically, it can support a not-guilty verdict in a criminal case, as was the case with the English teen, or can be used as the basis of overturning a criminal conviction.

No two people, with the exception of identical twins, have the same DNA. Approximately 99.9% of the human DNA sequence is the same for every person. The remaining .01%, and the matter most valuable to a forensic scientist, is different in every person. DNA profiling creates a map of the .01% of a human’s DNA that is different. A unique identifier is established to connect the matter to a person and enable law enforcement to connect a person to the crime scene.

Charged With a Felony or Misdemeanor in Los Angeles?

The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has two convenient locations in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area in Beverly Hills and Encino. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528 24/7 to speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today. At the Law Offices of James E. Blatt, we have been committed to providing our clients with the best possible criminal defense in every type of criminal case. We provide zealous representation and make recommendations on how best to resolve your criminal case.

If you are under investigation by state, federal, or international authorities or have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony offense, seek legal representation from the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys.


Money Bail Abolished in California

In late Summer 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark criminal justice bill, Senate Bill No. 11, abolishing cash bail in criminal cases. California is the first state to abolish the cash bail system in criminal cases. Beginning in October 2019, the law now gives judges the discretion to decide who is released on his or her own recognizance or who must remain in custody pending a plea bargain or trial following an arrest for a criminal offense, whether misdemeanor or felony. The new law can be found here.  

Up until the law was passed, accused defendants had to buy their release from jail through a bail bondsman or with cash. Now, individuals will be released after arraignment with no bail, on their own recognizance or under supervised conditions.

Hailed as a victory for criminal justice reform advocates, the elimination of cash bail was one of many criminal justice reforms passed by the outgoing Governor Brown. Opponents of cash bail systems argued for years that the cash bail system disadvantages the poor and overcrowds jails with defendants accused of minor offenses. Judges must now determine who is a public safety threat or a flight risk when making custody determinations.

Bail Schedule Abolished

Bail in California used to be established according to a fixed bail schedule published by Los Angeles County or other initiating law enforcement agencies. Judges considered the charge and the defendant’s prior criminal record and used that information to determine a cash bail amount.  The judges had no discretion in setting bail. They were required to set bail according to the schedule. If the defendant was unable to pay cash bail, he or she was able to hire a bail bonds person who would pay the cash bail for a fee.

New Risk Assessment System to be Established

When the new law goes into effect in October 2019, judges will determine bail as follows:

  • Individuals charged with a non-violent minor or misdemeanor charge, if considered a low to medium risk, will be released 12 hours after they are arrested and booked, before they see the judge for an arraignment. No cash bail will be imposed. The individuals will be given a date to appear in court for their arraignment.
  • Individuals considered medium to high risk and who are accused of committing a violent offense or are repeat offenders, will remain in custody (jail) until a bail hearing or trial. No bail will be set, especially if the defendant failed to appear in court before. To make their assessment, judges will consider the accused person’s criminal history and nature of the offense.

Charged With a Crime in Los Angeles?

If you have been arrested or under investigation for a criminal offense in California, whether state, federal, or international, seek the knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to assist you.

At the Law Offices of James E. Blatt, we are committed to providing zealous representation of our client’s best interests. Our attorneys have been involved in every type of criminal defense, from misdemeanors to felonies to complex international prosecutions. We successfully represent clients in the investigation, plea bargain, trial, and appeal stages in state, federal, and international court.

Proudly serving the greater Los Angeles metro area, along with Beverly Hills and Encino, the Law Office of James E. Blatt is available to begin legal representation immediately following an arrest. Speak to a lawyer now. Call toll-free at (877) 546-2528 to request a confidential consultation right away.


The Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act

California legislators recognised the need to combat terroristic threats, more specifically those where biological, nuclear, WMDs (weapons of mass destruction), radio-logical and chemical agents could be used in perpetrating such actions. As these weapons could place Californians in great peril, Governor Gray Davis signed the Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act on September 28, 1999.

With specific punishments that include automatic life in prison, it is important to familiarise yourself with HACPTA, its sanctions, and what penalties could be imposed for merely “pretending” to have the capacity to wipe out an entire state.

Specifics Addressed in This Act

According to California legislature, manufacturing, possessing, threatening to use, or transferring various gas, nerve, or explosive agents designed to cause injury or death to mass groups of people is an offence punishable with up to nine years in state prison. Those who have been previously convicted may serve up to 15 years in prison.

Persons possessing biological agents such as bacillus anthracis (anthrax), rickettsia, coccidioides immitis, South African hemorrhagic fever viruses, and toxins like diacetoxyscirpenol may be fined up to $250,000 or imprisoned for up to 12 years, or both. This includes the deliberate use or threatened use of commercial or industrial chemicals as weapons against animals or humans, and specific attacks that cause damage to food, crops, and seeds.

Those who successfully deploy these weapons against persons shall be punished by life in prison; if those weapons cause death to one or more persons, the sentence is enhanced to life without parole.

Emailing or faxing plans for weapons of mass destruction is punishable up to one year, but is enhanced to two years if receiving such plans induces fear.

Why Punishments are so Harsh

Terrorist threats have divided not only California, but our nation, since the events that transpired during 9/11. Even with heightened airport security and tougher immigration laws, terrorists are not only attempting to destroy us from the outside, but from within.

To help curb these crimes, the Act makes possessing, using, and selling these weapons both a state felony and quite possibly a federal charge if done on government property or if agents are launched at government properties from afar.

Defenses to Crimes Under this Act

As with all crimes, criminal defense attorneys will raise numerous meritorious defenses in their clients’ cases. Prosecutors must prove, beyond a doubt, that possession of such weapons was for the sole purpose of causing mass destruction, to induce fear, to embezzle, or to perform other criminal acts.

Defense attorneys will note that their client:

  • Did not know the agent was on a banned substance list;
  • Had no intention to email or transmit via facsimile plans to create such weapons;
  • Lived with a person who actually possessed these items; and
  • Was nowhere near the weapon when it launched.

Successful defenses may dismiss charges or lessen them to misdemeanors. Material evidence and witnesses will be cross-examined to discredit potentially false or misleading information presented by the state.

Terrorist threats are serious charges in California, punishable by death in some scenarios. If under investigation for possessing or using weapons with banned substances, contact James E. Blatt immediately.


What Happens if I Fight Extradition Back to California?

If you have been charged with a serious felony like homicide in California, but have moved to another state, the prosecutor and judge in your case may approve extradition back to California to face charges. Fighting extradition may or may not have benefits depending on how you look at things.

Should your loved abscond justice, and you are wanting to help them make the right decision, we will discuss both the pitfalls and positives in waiving or fighting extradition to California.

Determining Whether Crimes are Extraditable

California, like 47 other states, follows the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA) which states that any person wanted on charges can be held in any U.S. locality until the receiving state (California) decides to expound time and resources to pick the wanted person up. Only Missouri and South Carolina have not adopted the UCEA but may have their own rules on extradition.

In deciding whether fugitives from justice should be extradited, California will consider:

  • Distance from California in relation to seriousness of offense;
  • Costs involved including paying personnel, fuel, lodging and food;

Note that California will generally pick up fugitives in any state for murder or similarly high offenses.

Waiving or Fighting Extradition

By signing a waiver of extradition, fugitives forgo their right to fight being captured in another state. From there, California has 30 days to arrange transport back to the county that charged the fugitive. Each day spent in custody after waiving extradition gets credited toward the offence which the fugitive will face.

Should a fugitive fight extradition, a court date will be established to hear arguments why the defendant should not be returned to California. If the crime is a lower felony or misdemeanor, a bond may be issued, which allows the fugitive to go free until their hearing.

If the court determines just cause exists to return the fugitive back to California, a Governor’s Warrant will be signed and the person being returned will be transported within 90 days. Note that whether it takes 10 or 80 days, none of that time goes toward the underlying offence which the fugitive will face back home.

Should I Fight, or Just Come Back?

There are no “cheat sheets” used by county prosecutors or judges to determine whether they’ll request your return back to California, but there are several factors of which you should be mindful:

  • Misdemeanor crimes are generally not worth the resources required to extradite if the defendant is over 500 miles away;
  • Low-level “wobbler” felonies and those deemed non-violent may, too, not be worth the county’s time and money unless the prosecutor really, really wants you;
  • The longer you run, the harsher you may be treated upon your return;
  • Extradition from Arizona to California, because it is a bordering state, may be imminent regardless what level of crime you face;
  • County jail overcrowding, availability of guards or police assets, amount of money required to bring you back home and the likelihood you will waive extradition are other factors used to determine whether you will be returned.

Due to California extradition time limits mandated by UCEA, decisions are often made quickly.

Yes, an Attorney can Represent You From Afar

If you are living in another state, and the prosecutor decided to charge you with some crime committed months or years ago, extradition back to California could happen if your whereabouts are known. You will then need to decide whether you will accept the extradition request, or fight it in the county in which you have been detained.

Each case for which extradition is possible is based on its own merits. No two decisions are ever the same. With criminal defense working for you back in California, you may receive a bond. You can then return to California yourself, allow your attorney to resolve the case in absentia, or go with what they suggest. Fighting or waiving extradition may have positives; your attorney will know.

Either way, take your potential extradition seriously.


Federal Prison Population Buildup Could Spell Early Release

Over the last three decades, the United States has quietly increased its federal prison population by unprecedented numbers. In fact, from 1980 to 2015, the inmate population skyrocketed from 25,000 inmates to roughly 205,000, growing an average of 5,900 inmates each year.

This increase is attributable to the elimination of parole, sweeping reform to Federal Criminal Code, making more state crimes also federal offenses, and the growing number of first-time offenses subject to mandatory minimum sentences.

Could growth both in state and federal prisons spell early release for some non-violent criminals? The answer resides somewhere between Congressional action, and the creation of programs aimed at lowering the recidivism rate.

Underlying Issues Contributing to Growth

Early indication from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must meet numerous challenges due to this increase in the inmate population.

According to GAO, BOP reports that:

  • Inmates at higher risk of committing violence in prison are being grouped with lower-risk victims in double and triple bunking arrangements;
  • The benefits drug and education programs can provide inmates are not being realized due to long waiting lists, which puts inmates on “idle” status. Extended idleness can threaten institutional security and lower recidivism rate;
  • Few meaningful work opportunities are also contributing to inmates remaining idle too long;
  • Overcrowded visiting rooms means some inmates are denied visitation, creating another threat to inmate and staff security; and
  • Inmates are outnumbering staff by larger numbers as each year grows, causing staff to work exhaustive hours. This also reduces inmate-staff communication, which is vital in deescalating threats to inmate security.

Federal prison overcrowding also taxes BOP’s infrastructure that, by design, is meant to control smaller prison populations. Also, as facilities age, maintenance intervals increase with it, driving up costs of building upkeep.

Options for the BOP

Expanding federal facilities seems like an easy fix to an age-old problem. However, there are more creative ways to address overcrowded prisons other than creating more room to lock people up.

The BOP has reported long-term success with cognitive-behavioral programs, community-based drug treatment programs, and vocational programs designed to prepare inmates for work upon release. These programs are viable options for prisons facing high recidivism, but fail to address the bevy of new inmates entering the system for low-level charges.

Private prisons are another option Congress is kicking around, although these for-profit lockups are more likely to offer less reform since these private companies are incentivized to keep inmates longer.

One possible option could be increasing the credit-time given to inmates with lower security levels, or putting these inmates on electronic monitoring when they are within 90 days of release. Reworking the Federal Criminal Code to lessen sentences may also be an option worth exploring, although getting bipartisan support may require more work than it is worth.

Using probation or other alternative sentences more frequently could also reduce BOP strain, even if that means increasing the frequency with which defendants visit their probation officer.

Overpopulation is the Oldest Conversation Topic

People are talking about state and federal prison overpopulation every year, although little is done to curb increases. Helpful programs are there, as are alternative sentences. It is up to judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys to come to an agreement so first-time offenders can correct their actions and avoid reoffending.

It is unknown how many low-level inmates are battered, or killed, each year. What is known is that prison overcrowding must be addressed before the staff-to-inmate ratio spirals out of control, making federal correctional facilities the least likely place to reform an offender’s actions.

Facing federal charges? James E. Blatt fights cases to get them dismissed. Based on his past case results, persons facing serious jail time continue retaining him for his superior level of representation.