Creative Sentencing in the Age of COVID-19

As the struggle to contain the COVID-19 crisis grinds on, including concerns about the possible spread of the virus in jails and prisons, there has been a renewed interest in finding alternatives to sentences that involve extended periods of incarceration. It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that Jamie Markham has written about such alternatives many times over the years. But in light of the current health situation, I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit some of those topics, collect them together in one post, and try to expand on a few of the suggestions and options.

I should also acknowledge that this post was prompted, at least in part, by the fact that I only recently learned about an unusual type of sentence known as the “Holbrook Holiday.”

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Stay of Probation upon Appeal

When a person is convicted and sentenced, the sentence generally starts right away. G.S. 15A-1353(a). The judge can delay the start of the sentence, as discussed in this prior post, but that is the exception to the rule. About the only other thing that can put the brakes on the start of a sentence is … Read more

Avoiding Post-Release Supervision

As I’ve noted in prior posts, some people just want to serve their time in prison. For one reason or another, they do not want to be on probation. For similar reasons, many defendants do not want to be on post-release supervision. Post-release supervision (PRS), you’ll recall, is a term of supervised release served at … Read more

Hip Pocket Jail Time for Probationers

The rules for sentencing a defendant to special probation—a split sentence—are set out in G.S. 15A-1351(a). Under that law, the court can order as part of a probationary sentence that the defendant serve a period of imprisonment not exceeding one-fourth the maximum suspended sentence imposed (or, in impaired driving cases, one-fourth of the maximum penalty … Read more