Prison Or Probation?

A Lufkin man who pleaded guilty to using a fake weapon to rob two Lufkin businesses has been sentenced to probation.

Judge David Wilson gave David Alexander eight years probation and ordered him to undergo drug rehab.

Alexander pretended to have a gun last month when he robbed the Redland grocery store and the Expo Inn.  He remains in the Angelina County Jail.

If you think being sentenced to probation instead of prison is getting off easy, you're wrong.  First time offenders are more likely to avoid jail time, but many of them actually prefer being locked up.

Judge Wilson said, "They're a lot of people who don't want to have to respond to someone over them.  They go to the penetentiary, they get fed, they lay in a bunk; their biggest concern is what program they have to watch."

Probation, unlike prison, is a form of rehabilitation.  Some judges say it doesn't work as well as they'd hoped, but it does work.

"There is certainly some hope of rehabilitation," said Judge Wilson.  "The percentages are not as good as we would like, but if they make it all the way through probation, there's a 2/3 chance that they will not re-offend."

Probation supervisors agree, probation should be an alternative for offenders, especially since it's much cheaper than sending them to jail.  It costs taxpayers about $2 a day to put someone on probation.  Taxpayers dish out more than $40 a day to house jail inmates.

Probation Supervisor Sherry McConnell said, "If someone is really not afraid of going to jail and prison, it's not an effective deterrent, and it's really better to try to help an offender recognize their problem and fix that than it is to send them to jail or prison."

Probationers have plenty of rules and regulations to follow, not required for inmates.  They have to work, report regularly to their probation officer, pay court costs, and even pay fees to their victims.

While on probation, they can't associate with other probationers, convicted felons, or even go to bars.  Probation can last anywhere from six months to 10 years.

Once he's released from jail, David Alexander will spend time in a drug offender program where he'll submit to urine tests to check for illegal drug use.