In response to your article, “District 27 D.A. Makes Probation Changes,” I wanted to say that I am an employee for Sequoyah County Community Sentencing (C.S.); which is supervised by Judge Jeff Payton. Our program is in one of the districts that Mr. Kuester is mentioning proposing changes.
The program began in 2003 and is doing the same thing Mr. Kuester is speaking of. Judge Payton has helped Sequoyah County Community Sentencing become an effective alternative to prison by giving people the supervision, treatment, and specific rules to abide by to better themselves.
We administer an LSI (Level Service Inventory) before the individuals come into the program (this gives us an in-depth view into their backgrounds and tells us where we need to start with their treatment). Our program takes anyone with a prior felony. If they don’t qualify for C.S. probation then we work with the D.A. to find the right program for that individual.
• Our “Rules and Conditions” require the individual to start working toward their GED classes within the first week of sentencing into the program if they don’t already have their H.S. diploma or GED.
• Community Sentencing individuals do community service for non-profit organizations if they do not have a full-time job.
• Counseling is a focal point of the program. Addicts who need counseling are provided with those services. We find the right treatment facility that fits the offender’s current and past charges.
• We help them maintain their court costs and restitution if it applies to that specific individual and their charges.
I would just like to go on record that I believe the changes being made will have a high rate of successful completion. I’m glad to see that our D.A., Brian Kuester, is making the changes to broaden the opportunities for the people of our county. I have great expectations for Mr. Kuester’s plans and looking forward to working more with the D.A. to provide an alternative solution for those clients that do not qualify for the programs that already exist.