Double secret probation explained

To the Editor:

Your June 19 editorial about Wesley Kidder reminded me of the phrase and inside joke that we used to use when I was with the state police -- double secret probation.

Theoretically, here is how it would work: A kid gets busted for something and gets juvenile diversion. For his next offense and any additional offenses committed before he turns 18 he gets juvenile probation. Then when he is eligible for big boy court the first time he gets restorative justice and then adult diversion. A subsequent charge may result in a deferred sentence since the court could consider this as his first offense.

Then on the next trip even if there are a dozen or so combination of larcenies, burglaries, and assaults committed in rapid succession the court appointed counsel may be successful in arguing that "they should all be considered as just one event in this young man's life, Your Honor," so probation is found to be appropriate.

Add to this all the time spent by corrections department people doing pre-sentence investigations and judge time listening to two-day sentencing hearings. Somewhere in all this the offender has probably developed a drug problem and/or a few charges of domestic violence so a trip through the intensive drug abuse program (IDAP) or (ISAP) for assaults is done.

Adding the word intensive makes it sound much more severe. And then, and then, and then a subsequent conviction may land the criminal in jail. He can get up-to-date on his educational, medical and dental deficiencies at this point. Since there is not enough room he soon gets into the community corrections program and put in an apartment downtown.

Here he is on a monitor from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can only commit crimes on the street half of the time. Any further problems from that point he is warned he may be subjected to the ultimate punishment in Vermont, double secret probation! He must be petrified.

Wayne Dyer

Groton, Vt.


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