Halfway House Commute

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  • Halfway House Commute

    I have a seventeen year-old first time offender (non violent) sentenced to community service that has to commute to and from a halfway house.

    Departing from conventional protocol I am taking artistic license to make the story in the world I have created work.

    Is it possible to stretch the suspension of disbelief by allowing him to make the commute from the halfway house (walking distance) without supervision? He will have supervision once he arrives at his destination and return to the halfway house before dark.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Halfway House Commute

    Originally posted by Skatch View Post
    I have a seventeen year-old first time offender (non violent) sentenced to community service that has to commute to and from a halfway house.

    Departing from conventional protocol I am taking artistic license to make the story in the world I have created work.

    Is it possible to stretch the suspension of disbelief by allowing him to make the commute from the halfway house (walking distance) without supervision? He will have supervision once he arrives at his destination and return to the halfway house before dark.

    Thanks
    Woah woah woah...

    Isn't a halfway house for someone who is leaving prison? As in, if you haven't been sentenced to prison, rather community service, you wouldn't be in a halfway house would you? And would a seventeen year old first timer find himself there either?

    A lot of this seems kinda weird to me... but the travelling to and from a halfway house without supervision does sound "sound." I think that is the point of a halfway house: to give convicts a transitional period with limited supervision -- let them have the freedom to prove themselves during the day, with a curfew and lacks supervision during the night.

    Best of luck.

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    • #3
      Re: Halfway House Commute

      Originally posted by Ronnie Danjer View Post
      Woah woah woah...

      Isn't a halfway house for someone who is leaving prison? As in, if you haven't been sentenced to prison, rather community service, you wouldn't be in a halfway house would you? And would a seventeen year old first timer find himself there either?
      Thanks Ronnie. Makes a lot of sense. I have to keep the "concept" of the halfway house and try to find another setting that makes it work.

      Skatch

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      • #4
        Re: Halfway House Commute

        Originally posted by Skatch View Post
        Thanks Ronnie. Makes a lot of sense. I have to keep the "concept" of the halfway house and try to find another setting that makes it work.

        Skatch
        I'm no expert on this issue, but when I was seventeen, lets just say I did a little community service. And a half-way house was in no way involved. Community service is all there was. Maybe he is on parole? Maybe he was in juvie for a few weeks/months? I don't know your story so I can't say for sure that the halfway house element is true or untrue, but it doesn't RING true to me that he would be in one.

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        • #5
          Re: Halfway House Commute

          Originally posted by Ronnie Danjer View Post
          I'm no expert on this issue, but when I was seventeen, lets just say I did a little community service. And a half-way house was in no way involved. Community service is all there was. Maybe he is on parole? Maybe he was in juvie for a few weeks/months? I don't know your story so I can't say for sure that the halfway house element is true or untrue, but it doesn't RING true to me that he would be in one.
          In a nutshell: He has no parents (has gone from foster home to foster home) and lives on the streets. I'm not sure if that makes him a ward of the state. He committed the "incident/crime" that warrented probation as well as the community service sentence. But now my problem is... he needs to commute to the community service from... someplace. I know this is a stretch but I need it to work for my story.

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          • #6
            Re: Halfway House Commute

            And what would a *17 year old* be doing in prison or even a halfway house. For someone 17 years old to be just out of prison, he'd have to go in at least a year earlier... and be tried as an adult... and the reasons why non-adults are tried as adults is that their crimes are serious (like some really brutal murder). Is that who your character is?

            Just make sure you aren't contriving a situation - pushing characters around like cardboard cut outs, just to get them where you want them to be. Story comes from character, characters do things with motivation and some sort of reason.

            How many people did this 17 year old kill and eat?

            - Bill
            Free Script Tips:
            http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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            • #7
              Re: Halfway House Commute

              You could invent a pilot program. Perhaps this is a kid who has been in some trouble and has volunteered to live at a house for troubled teens or something rather than go to Juvee. I would believe that as long as you put a lot of work into creating the program.
              Chicks Who Script podcast

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              • #8
                Re: Halfway House Commute

                Originally posted by emily blake View Post
                You could invent a pilot program. Perhaps this is a kid who has been in some trouble and has volunteered to live at a house for troubled teens or something rather than go to Juvee. I would believe that as long as you put a lot of work into creating the program.
                This this this. Relating back to my experiences: I went through a similar program. Instead of going to trial, taking up court time etc, I was part of a "diversion" program... where first time, minor offenders were given the opportunity to go to mediation with the other party. This mediation is very open ended and can result in any kind of agreement. For me it was community service. For your protag, he could make a deal to do community service, but maybe they are worried about his ability to stay out of trouble so they stipulate that he must live in a halfway house... with a bunch of hardened, middle-aged criminals.

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                • #9
                  Re: Halfway House Commute

                  Could it be a group home for foster kids? They are like halfway houses in some respects. While they have a lot of rules, I think it might be possible for a kid living in a group home to be permitted to walk to community service.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Halfway House Commute

                    he would be in a group home for juvenile delinquents and not a half-way house. but if you want to put him in a half-way house with ex-hardened criminals then you need to set up circumstances: ie - he's very mature (in size and appearance and only a couple of months from being an adult) and the group home is over-crowded... so they move him to the half-way house temporarily. a bad decision by the authorities but they make bad decisions all the time.

                    also, they can fit him with a monitoring device; the parameters of which can be altered on a case by case basis.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Halfway House Commute

                      There are group homes for teenagers who have been in trouble with the law. Having him walk to/from work unsupervised would not seem implausible.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Halfway House Commute

                        Skatch,

                        Ronnie is correct in that a halfway house is not associated with probation. Neither is a halfway house associated with juveniles. It is a condition of parole that allows the convicted inmate to transition from prison. Nobody goes to a halfway house without first serving time. Nobody is paroled except from prison. While at the halfway house you are on parole. There is limited supervision, and you are expected (and helped) to find a job and housing. If you violate the terms of your parole it is revoked and you are sent back to prison to complete your original sentence.

                        Probation is not punishment for any crime. It is an alternative to punishment that varies from crime to crime. You could plea bargain and accept a term of probation by admitting to the facts of the crime (or lesser crime), or you could be tried, found guilty, and placed on probation as an alternative to the statutory sentence for the crime - which would likely happen here as it is the character's first criminal offense. The court may place any condition on the terms of the probation, such as community service, counseling, school. You agree to it or you don't. If you don't, you go to trial or you go to prison. So, probation can happen either before or after a trial. Once sent to prison, the only option to get out early is a parole. There is no probation from prison.

                        However, it is important to note that in accepting a plea-bargained probation before trial, or a court-offered probation after trial and guilty verdict, the defendant is waiving any right to a trial of the original charge, or any right to appeal the conviction. If the terms of the probation are violated the court can sentence the defendant to whatever prison term is prescribed for the original charge - without the defendant ever getting a trial, or - if tried and convicted, without a right to appeal that conviction.

                        So, your character's conduct while on probation is important as he likely has: 1) waived his right to a jury trial on the criminal charge in accepting the pretrial probation, and if he violates the terms of his probation (such as unexcused absence from community service), he can be sent right to prison on the original charge (as if he had been found guilty of the crime); or 2) waived his right to an appeal of his conviction if he had his trial, and if he violates his probation terms he could be sent right to prison. In the latter case where there has been a trial and guilty verdict, the court usually sentences on the crime at the end of the trial and guilty verdict, and then suspends that prison sentence during the period of the probation. If probation is violated, the defendant is sentenced to the already set prison term, and has no right to appeal the conviction.

                        As an aside, probation violators (adult and juvenile) save the state millions of dollars annually in trial and appellate costs. Constitutional rights are eroded in the criminal justice system in place today.

                        Your character is seventeen, and still a juvenile. Although most jurisdictions waive seventeen-year olds out of juvenile court and try them as adults, the courts (prosecutors) might try your character as a juvenile as this is a first offence. The nature of the crime alleged would determine.

                        The state has an obligation to house juveniles until they've reached the age of majority, which is eighteen in most jurisdictions. They do this via private foster homes, group homes, or the old orphanages that remain. Finding a foster home (parent) for a seventeen-year old accused of a crime is a near impossibility. The group home is the much more likely accommodation - eight to twenty kids to a house, depending on the size of the house, which is usually a rented property that sits in a regular neighborhood, undistinguished from other houses in the neighborhood except for the terrified wails of children and the constant police car presence, eight-hour shifts by mostly unskilled workers (well trained in how to 'physically restrain' a child), and required attendance of all 'residents' at a regular or alternate school; transportation provided.

                        The 'state's child' is routinely drugged to control group home behavior.

                        Your court probably would require school attendance in addition to community service, and would require some counseling. The group home would help your character to get to and from the regular or alternate school and the community service hours required by the court. They would be required to assist the youth in complying with the court order. Group home house rules for curfew must be followed by the youth. Your character would work it out with the community service agency (and the state's juvenile probation officer) for the completion of community service hours required by the court, completion of which would have to be in compliance with the group house rules. The community service agency and the juvenile probation officer make a report to the court on the defendant's compliance with the terms of juvenile probation.

                        If your juvenile character has been in and out of the foster care system (includes private and group homes run by both the state and non-profits such as Boys and Girls' Town), and then 'ages-out' of the system at eighteen, s/he will be homeless or in prison within the first year of adulthood in seventy percent (70%) of all cases. The foster and group home system is an utter governmental failure and complete disservice to children. The system of juvenile probation doesn't fare any better.

                        The court would not sentence a juvenile to probation or any community service without first requiring the state (DCYF) to locate housing for the child. And, if housing isn't immediately available, the court might sentence your character to juvenile prison, even prior to a trial, which the juvenile (delinquent) might never get. A juvenile must be in some adult's care. The court cannot ignore the fact that the 'state's child' is homeless or parent-less. If sent to juvenile prison, there would be no probation, no work-release. The child would likely be imprisoned until the age of majority... when the state can wash its hands of any responsibility for the child.
                        Last edited by Scriptonian; 05-13-2011, 08:21 AM.

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