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Probation, jail, or prison?

by Pat Fletcher, Victim Services Officer for the State of Colorado Probation Department in Trinidad, Melinda Vecellio, Victim Advocate for Trinidad’s District Attorney’s Office, and Bobbie Marcus, Victim Advocate for Walsenburg’s District Attorney’s Office

COLORADO — At sentencing, there are several options a judge may consider: probation, jail, and prison (including community corrections). Before the sentence was imposed, the victim had input as to which consequence he/she felt would be appropriate for the defendant. The judge has weighed what the victim has said in the victim impact statement plus such other things as severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, his/her mental and physical health, drug use, family background, work history, and education.

After evaluating this pre-sentence report, the judge makes the decision which would be in the best interest of the offender: probation, jail, or prison. Each has procedures in place when it comes to keeping the victim of a crime appraised of critical events that might affect them. Each has specific processes to keep a victim in the loop during the offender’s probation, his/her stay at our local jail, or his/her incarceration in a Colorado Department of Corrections facility.

If the sentence is probation, the victim will be contacted by the victim services’ officer and asked if he/she wants to be included in the probation department’s Victim Notification Program. If the victim wants to be included, then there will be notices sent out of events that may occur such as a revocation of the offender’s probation, a modification of conditions imposed on him/her, arrest warrants issued for his/her arrest, a change of venue and contact information for the new probation officer in case he/she moves away, and the death of the probationer should that happen. At the end of the offender’s probation, there is one final letter stating that the probation is over.

If the sentence is jail, the victim will need to contact the jail and ask to be in their “VINE” contact program. VINE stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday. Once signed up, the victim will be automatically notified by phone, email, or text should the offender be released, transferred to another jail, escape, or die.

If the sentence is prison, the DA’s advocate provides information on how to register for the Department of Corrections’ notification program. If the victim opts in to their notification program, notices will be sent of such events as transfers to less secure facilities, requests for a parole hearing, dates of parole hearings, outcomes of parole hearings, the inmate’s escape, the inmate’s apprehension, his/her- discharge date, and/or the death of inmate should that occur.

Pat Fletcher can be reached by phone at 497-8259 or by email at mpat.fletcher@judicial.state.co.us.

 

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