SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said most people with drug possession charges get probation or parole instead of jail time.
“SES is what’s called a suspended execution of sentence,” Patterson said. “When a defendant receives that at the end of a case, what that means is they’ve been sentenced to some term of imprisonment, some number of years, but the court suspends the execution of that term, and the Department of Corrections and the person is placed on probation.”
Timothy Shafer, the man killed during an officer-involved shooting Saturday, September 24, was charged with several possessions of a controlled substance over a six-year period. A judge suspended his sentence and gave him probation.
“It’s very often for a person charged with possession of a controlled substance to receive some sort of probation,” Patterson said. “The focus very often in those cases is on obtaining supervision and treatment so that we prevent other criminal behavior.”
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said the jail is filled with violent criminals and not drug possessors.
“We try to put the people that are rapists, first-degree assault, which is attempted murder, weapons charges, whether in the commission of a crime like a robbery,” Arnott said. “Those are the ones that the jail is almost 900 people full. We don’t have any misdemeanor weed charges or people in possession. That just doesn’t happen.”
Patterson said the goal is to prevent drug addicts from committing other crimes.
“The best way we know to do that is with supervision by probation and parole as well as treatment,” Patterson said. “Sometimes that might be in one of our treatment courts, and other times it might be treated in the community directed by probation and parole.
Probation can vary depending on the type of sentence. Patterson said most people facing drug possession charges get 18 months to five years of probation. Intensive treatment can last anywhere between 18 to 24 months.
“Treatment court is a diversion program to divert individuals from prison,” Patterson said. “In our treatment court in Greene County, we administer what’s called the risk and needs assessment tool for the initial place. The folks that we look to put in our treatment are those who score high for addiction and people who score high for the risk of recidivism because we know that type of intense supervision by not just a probation officer, but by the treatment court judge and the treatment that go with it are best for dealing with that population.”
Patterson said if someone relapses, probation officers or treatment centers will try other options before sending them to jail.