, Muskogee, OK

November 22, 2012

Program can help probationers

— District 27 District Attorney Brian  Kuester’s proposed changes in the probation program should give offenders a fighting chance to succeed outside of jail.

Kuester said there are three changes he’s making to his program, which encompasses probationers in Adair, Sequoyah, Cherokee and Wagoner counties:

• The program’s name will change from DA Supervision to DA Probation;

• Community service will be a probation requirement; and

• Increased probation programs aimed toward education and counseling.

“Unemployed defendants need jobs; defendants without high school diplomas need GEDs; defendants without some basic life skills need a little coaching; and defendants with addictions need counseling,” Kuester said. “My goal is to point these defendants in the right direction to the resources that are available and offer them incentive to succeed.

“This is an opportunity to send them in the right direction.”

The probationers in the program typically will be non-violent offenders and those with misdemeanors.

The program sounds like a solid plan to help those who are in trouble with the law, but have a good chance to succeed with the right help.

Oklahoma’s prisons are too full.

We must do all we can to catch those who can be helped before they wind up in prison.

The program deserves time to evaluate its potential for success.

Giving people an opportunity to succeed outside of jail should be a priority along with enforcing the law.