Post-Plea Deferral Program Offers Second Chance to Some Drug Offenders
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announces a Post-Plea Deferral Program (PPDP) jointly developed by the United States Attorney’s Office, the United States Probation Office and the Federal Public Defender’s office. The goals of the PPDP are to promote community safety, break the cycle of drug addiction-induced crime, and increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation of drug offenders by implementing a blend of treatment, supervision, appropriate sanctions, and incentives.
On Monday, June 6, 2016, Jeremy Johnson became the first person accepted into the Eastern District of Arkansas’ PPDP. Johnson pleaded guilty to obtaining a Schedule II controlled substance by fraudulent prescription, which carries up to a four-year prison sentence. However, as Johnson is a participant in the PPDP, United States District Court Judge James M. Moody, Jr., deferred acceptance of the plea for a period of 18 months, during which time Johnson must abide by the conditions and requirements of the PPDP. If he successfully completes his program, the United States Attorney will dismiss his charges.
"My office is pleased to participate in this rehabilitative alternative to felony conviction, designed for those who deserve such a break," Thyer said. "The PPDP program is limited in scope, providing individuals with no prior criminal history, or very minor criminal history, whose criminal conduct was motivated primarily by drug addiction, to accept their criminal conduct and prove their rehabilitation over a period of months. Upon successful completion, the individual will have the opportunity to move forward leading a drug-free life without having received a felony record."
The PPDP is a new program designed to give a limited number of offenders charged with minor drug-related offenses who have little or no criminal history and whose illegal conduct was the direct result of an addiction to drugs the opportunity to resolve their federal charges without a felony conviction. This opportunity is available provided they successfully complete an intensive supervision program and show that they are positively contributing to the community through employment and education.
"I think it is wonderful that our district has implemented this program, and the federal defender’s office very much looks forward to participating in it," Federal Public Defender Jenniffer Horan said.
Under the program, a defendant who accepts responsibility for his or her criminal conduct will enter a guilty plea that is deferred by the court for a period of 12 to 18 months. During the deferral period, the defendant will be supervised by the United States’ Probation Office and provided the opportunity to participate in drug treatment and other available services. Upon successful completion of the rehabilitation period, the court will decline to accept the defendant’s guilty plea, and the United States will dismiss the felony charges against the defendant. Successful completion and dismissal of felony charges are not guaranteed upon acceptance into the program, rather, successful completion must be earned by the defendant through showing genuine rehabilitation from drug addiction and positive contribution to the community.
"The program provides defendants, whose criminal activity is directly related to addiction, an opportunity to break the cycle of drug-induced criminal behavior," Chief U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officer Eddie Towe said. "One powerful incentive is the chance to avoid a custody sentence and a federal criminal conviction. The parties will use a collaborative approach to recommend responses to violations in an expeditious and consistent manner while also providing encouragement and guidance."