Indiana Purposeful Incarceration Attorneys

January 25, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Indiana Purposeful Incarceration Attorneys

Addiction and drug abuse can often be at the root of criminal activity. In such cases, incarceration removes the offender from society for a time but does not address the cause of criminal behavior, making re-offending likely. The Indiana purposeful incarceration initiative gives eligible offenders an opportunity for addiction treatment and recovery plus a chance at earlier re-entry to society, eliminating the cause of criminal behavior and giving the offender a new lease on life.

Indiana sentencing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have years of criminal defense experience built on prior years working in major prosecutors offices. We understand how prosecutors think and operate, and how to take advantage of opportunities. With purposeful incarceration, we help qualifying clients seek a treatment opportunity, a sentencing break, and a chance for a fresh start that reduces the chance of reoffending.

Indiana Purposeful Incarceration and the Recovery While Incarcerated Program

The Indiana purposeful incarceration initiative was launched in 2009 to aid offenders whose criminal history is directly linked to addiction. A joint effort between the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC), the Indiana Parole Board, and the Indiana courts, purposeful incarceration is a collaborative effort to help individuals whose criminal activity is directly related to substance abuse or addiction.

In essence, purposeful incarceration means a period of incarceration that serves a purpose benefitting the offender. By including addiction and substance abuse treatment, it allows qualifying offenders—those battling substance abuse and addiction—a sentencing option that can both shorten their period of incarceration and give them a clean start in society.

Under the purposeful incarceration initiative, an offender may be eligible for sentence modification upon completion of a state-provided addiction treatment program, Recovery While Incarcerated (RWI). With the proper groundwork at the original sentencing stage, a qualifying offender can participate in an addiction recovery initiative while incarcerated and re-enter society as a sober citizen, potentially earlier than under the original sentencing order. This is a win-win for the offender and for society.

The experienced Indiana sentencing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you understand what purposeful incarceration means, how it may affect the length of your incarceration, whether you’re eligible for this initiative, how the RWI program works, and how the overall program may benefit you.

What Is Purposeful Incarceration?

Many criminal offenses can result in a prison sentence. Depending on the convicted offense and the defendant’s criminal history, the court may issue a sentencing order that includes a period of incarceration, sometimes with a subsequent period of parole or community corrections. The Indiana purposeful incarceration initiative lets the courts, parole board, and Department of Correction collaborate by providing a treatment option for offenders serving time for drug- or addiction-related offenses and, upon completion of the treatment program, allowing the court to consider modifying (shortening) the sentence.

Several statutes establish the authority for the development of this effort:

  • Indiana Code § 11-8-2-5(a)(8), which authorizes the commissioner of the Department of Correction to offer services to those committed to IDOC
  • Indiana Code § 11-10-3-4(a)(1), which authorizes IDOC to provide medical care, including substance abuse and addiction treatment, to committed individuals
  • Indiana Code § 35-50-6-3.3, which establishes a system for committed individuals to earn credit time for successful completion of educational programs

However, the path to purposeful incarceration must begin even before the sentencing hearing. For a defendant to be considered for the RWI treatment program and a possible modification of sentence, the court must make specific entries in the sentencing order and abstract of judgment at the time of sentencing.

Further, a court recommendation for RWI treatment is not a guarantee to admission in the treatment program. Upon incarceration, IDOC performs a substance abuse disorder assessment. If the evaluation results indicate that clinical treatment would be beneficial, then the offender may be admitted into the RWI program.

Defendants accepted into the RWI program undergo treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Throughout participation in the RWI program, the sentencing court receives updates on the offender’s progress and may even request reports. Such monitoring develops a record, with successes in treatment supporting the court’s modification of sentence after successful completion of the program. Those who successfully complete the multi-level program may ask the court to reconsider their sentence.

What Is the RWI Program?

The IDOC Addiction Recovery Services Division offers the RWI program by partnering with contracted medical care providers. The residential program operates in facilities throughout the State of Indiana. While in the program, participants work with health care providers to obtain the skills and knowledge to deal with their addictions and to grow and meet individualized treatment objectives and goals.

The RWI program does not establish a set timeline for successful completion. Rather, it requires participants to establish competencies in separate phases. When progressing through the phases or levels in the RWI program, participants must demonstrate competence at each level to successfully complete the program and become eligible for sentence modification. The final level pertains to support services offered after completion of the program.

The effect of purposeful incarceration on a sentence depends in large part on the individual defendant’s originally imposed sentence and rate of progress through the RWI program. However, time spent in treatment under the RWI program counts toward the defendant’s sentence and can include credit time, which can also reduce incarceration time.

Progress through the program depends on the individual, but most program participants who successfully complete the program do so in seven to nine months. When the court or parole board receives notice of successful completion, it schedules a sentencing modification or parole review hearing to reconsider the originally imposed sentence. Following that hearing, the court may shorten the period of time to be served in incarceration or order the remainder served through a sentencing alternative such as community corrections or parole.

Who Is Eligible for Purposeful Incarceration?

All candidates for purposeful incarceration must have a substance abuse or addiction problem and a criminal record directly related to substance abuse or addiction. This includes:

  • Offenders who have a significant history of relapse
  • Offenders who have been unsuccessful in other substance abuse treatment programs
  • Offenders facing a significant period of incarceration due to substance abuse or addiction
  • Offenders who have committed offenses or served time for charges related to their addiction

Court recommendation for purposeful incarceration does not guarantee admission into the RWI program. Additionally, defendants convicted of sex offenses are ineligible regardless of any substance abuse or addiction problems.

The Court Must Recommend You for Purposeful Incarceration

Just as eligibility for purposeful incarceration does not guarantee participation in the program, neither is it the only hurdle. You are eligible for treatment through the purposeful offender and the potential for sentence modification only if you have the appropriate language in your sentencing order.

A sentencing court referring a defendant to purposeful incarceration must include the following language in the sentencing order: “Defendant is recommended for Purposeful Incarceration. Upon successful completion of the clinically appropriate substance abuse treatment program as determined by the IDOC, the court will consider a modification to this sentence.”

Without this language in your sentencing order, you will not be evaluated for treatment in the RWI program. This means you and your attorney must prepare and ask the court for a purposeful incarceration recommendation before you appear for sentencing.

What Are the Benefits of Purposeful Incarceration?

Purposeful incarceration offers significant benefits over merely serving the sentence originally imposed. Each program participant gains the following from successfully completing the RWI program:

  • Treatment for substance abuse and addiction while serving a period of incarceration
  • Continuing support services through the RWI program
  • Potential shortening of a sentence or modification to a sentencing alternative in lieu of incarceration
  • Potential educational credit time up 180 days

When a court recommends an offender for purposeful incarceration, it commits to considering modification of the sentences upon successful completion of the RWI program.

Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Indiana Sentencing Attorneys to Investigate Indiana Purposeful Incarceration for You

If you’ve been convicted of one or more offenses because of substance abuse or addiction, you may be eligible to turn your sentence into an opportunity. With the Indiana purposeful incarceration initiative, your time committed to the Indiana Department of Correction can open doors for your future, but only if the groundwork is laid at the time of your sentencing. Having the right defense counsel from the start—to create the appropriate record and obtain a recommendation for the RWI program—can be critical to taking advantage of this opportunity.

The Indiana sentencing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP help their clients take advantage of IDOC offerings such as the Indiana purposeful incarceration initiative to improve the individual’s overall health, overcome substance abuse and addiction, reduce the likelihood of reoffending, and, when possible, minimize or shorten the period of incarceration for substance-abuse- and addiction-related offenses through sentencing modification. To learn more about purposeful incarceration or whether you may be eligible for recommendation to the RWI program, schedule a free consultation today by calling (317) 857-0160 or by completing this online contact form.

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