By Roxanna Jarvis
SACRAMENTO — Defendant Dewante Paul willingly remained in jail, refusing alternatives to incarceration, for 281 days in order to be considered for a mental health diversion program.
And, Friday, after hearing reasoning from one of Paul’s attorneys, a Sacramento judge approved the request, arguing it was a better solution for everyone involved.
“He [Paul] has elected to stay in custody far past the point of being time served on the People’s offer. He has been in custody I believe 281 actual days at this point,” said Assistant Public Defender Andrew Crouse of his client.
Paul’s other attorney, Assistant Public Defender Steven Hirsch, had informed Paul in January that he could take the plea deal and be released from jail to serve the remainder of his sentence through a program like the Sheriff’s work project, but he refused.
“He chose to remain in custody much longer so that he could get himself connected with mental health treatment services. He very much wants to participate in this treatment program in order to address some of these issues that have led to his…contact with the criminal justice system,” continued Crouse.
Paul is charged with felony counts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury (GBI) and knowingly inflicting GBI onto an elderly person or dependent adult.
In his plea and memo to the court to grant Paul acceptance into a mental health diversion program, Crouse argued that if Paul were denied treatment and was instead granted probation from the DA’s offer, the only supervision offered would be a monthly check-in with his probation officer.
Crouse then told the court that the treatment program would be a much more robust plan than jail time and probation.
“If he were granted diversion, he certainly would not be getting away or getting off easy, as he would have spent 281 days in custody and he has all of these conditions, classes, and appointments, medications, etc. to comply with for Telecare,” said APD Crouse.
The rehabilitation provider, Telecare, relayed to Crouse that they have reserved housing for Paul and have agreed to transport Paul directly from the jail to the facility.
In response, Deputy District Attorney Elise Stafford submitted to the court on her motion arguing that Paul does not meet all the requirements to be eligible for mental health diversion.
“We do have concerns for the community’s safety, but I’m happy to answer any questions that the court might have just so that I’m not reiterating everything in my motion,” the DDA said.
Judge Patrick Marlette explained that Crouse “zeroed in” on the court’s concern, but that he has doubts about the treatment program.
“A couple of things are clear…Mr. Paul does okay while he’s in custody…It’s also just as clear that when he gets out of custody, he goes back on meth and gets violent,” mentioned Judge Marlette.
“I don’t know what to say to the next person (when) Mr. Paul runs into a situation where he has gone off his meds, onto methamphetamine, overindulged, and hurts someone,” continued Marlette. “I mean that was a persistent, violent, entirely untriggered attack on that person,” referring to the incident in this specific case.
Marlette then went on to acknowledge that he was not aware Paul had spent so long in custody and agreed that the treatment program would be a good alternative or, in his words, “a better path for everyone concerned.”
To relieve Marlette’s concerns over the amount of supervision during the treatment program, APD Crouse informed him that Telecare would monitor him daily.
“I’d like to see testing at least regularly, if not every day,” Judge Marlette stated, who later gave an order that Paul stay at the center and not move from that house “on his own volition” for two years.
Judge Marlette told Paul, “I hope you appreciate all the work that goes into this. I don’t know if you ever got to see all the paperwork that we went through….All the stuff Mr. Crouse and Ms. Stafford did to get you to this point.”
Judge Marlette continued, “Maybe because you were in a mental health crisis that you don’t realize how badly you hurt that woman. I hope when you look back at that you realize that…I mean you got a mom, you maybe have a sister — you have people out there. You’re a big guy and what I’m telling those people — what I’m telling your mom, what I’m telling your neighbors…is that Mr. Paul’s got a program here so that you can be safe…and Mr. Paul’s not gonna hurt you.”
“All these people here are pulling for you. We know it’s possible for you to [get better]. I’ve seen hundreds of people in your situation come out of it and then be members of the community…You just have to not hurt folks,” Marlette said.
Paul was then informed that if the program does not work and he was to use meth and assault another person, the only alternative would be prison.
“So if you think about getting loaded out there, have a thought about that, have a thought about the long-term good for yourself,” ended Judge Marlette.
Roxanna Jarvis is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Sacramento, California.
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