Community service works because it offers judges an alternative sentence for defendants who would better serve the community in a structured and rigorous community service placement than behind bars. Often white collar criminals are first time offenders who can offer invaluable services and expertise to communities that could not otherwise afford it. Judges continue to recognize that in certain cases, community service acts not only as a strict sanction on the defendant, but as a saving grace to the organizations that benefit from these defendants’ skills.
Since 2011, community service has seen widespread support. With NCIA’s assistance in helping defense attorneys prepare and submit client background information, including substantial alternative community service recommendations, we have witnessed an increasing support of alternative sentences that include court-ordered community service sanctions. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) mandates the Court to consider “the kinds of sentences available.” This mandate allows a community service order to satisfy the goals of sentencing. In fact, there has been a wide endorsement of community service by both federal and state courts because the individual judges recognize that it “…is a burdensome penalty that meets with widespread public approval, is inexpensive to administer…produces public value…and can to a significant extent be scaled to the seriousness of crimes. One example is we worked with the developer of beanie babies, Ty Warner (tax evasion case with an $80 million fine), and developed a substantial community service placement for him. The judge was quoted as saying that incarcerating Mr. Warner would do more harm to society than good. Mr. Warner, facing a sentencing range of 46-57 months, received 2 years of probation with 500 hours of community service.
By Megan Hill