Judge supports program that allows offenders to avoid jail time - WNEM TV 5

Judge supports program that allows offenders to avoid jail time

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

The Saginaw County sheriff and a local judge are standing behind the release program that allowed a pair of felony heroin offenders to avoid prison and be out on the streets.

Brian Osika and Patience Valentine led police on a high speed chase down I-75. They were previously released as part of the Swift and Sure Program.

The program allows people to avoid jail time if they meet certain conditions. The pair were both heroin offenders and restricted from leaving the state. Police received word they were planning to cross state lines when they tried to stop them, which led to the chase.

Despite the incident, Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said he supports the program and so does a local judge.

"Any time you put someone in probation they have the chance of failure," Judge Darnell Jackson said. "Just the fact that these two were Swift and Sure probationers doesn't change the fact it's still probation and people are still flawed and they still may make a mistake and we'll deal with it accordingly."

Jackson didn't speak specifically about the chase, but he did speak in support of the program.

"You see it's not the Swift and Sure Program that caused somebody to violate the rules. It's the person's decision that caused them to violate the rules," Jackson said.

He said a number of factors including prior record, facts of the case and probation history, are just a few things that are considered for the Swift and Sure Program. Jackson insists these programs are good for the community.

He said you just can't lock everybody up.

"Anything of that nature when you start saying people don't comply with the rules cut the program. We wouldn't have any programs. The jails would be overrun," Jackson said.

It costs about $30,000 a year to keep one prisoner behind bars. The program is designed to reduce that cost while giving criminals a shot at rehabilitation.

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