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Parenting Sentencing Alternative (PSA)

In 2010, Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 6639 (pdf) created two Parenting Sentencing Alternatives to prison confinement for some nonviolent incarcerated individuals who have minor children. The judicial sentencing alternative is referred to as the Family & Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA) and the Department's incarcerated individual’s partial confinement program is referred to as the Community Parenting Alternative (CPA). This bill was amended in June 2020 and is now referred to as SSB 5291 (pdf).

Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 6639 was supported by the Department of Corrections (DOC) in partnership with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). The legislation requires DOC and DCYF Child Welfare System to work together on shared cases. Each PSA participant under DOC jurisdiction must sign releases of information to be eligible.

Why did the legislature create parenting sentencing alternatives?

Research shows children of incarcerated parents are significantly more likely to end up in the criminal justice system themselves. The focus of the legislation is the child(ren), family, and the importance of maintaining the family bond so that participants under DOC jurisidiction can be productive contributors in their families and communities. The goal of these programs is to help stop the cycle of criminal activity.

Family and Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA)

The judicial sentencing option is the Family and Offender Sentencing Alternative, commonly referred to as FOSA. FOSA allows judges to waive a sentence for eligible persons and impose 12 months of community supervision along with conditions for treatment and programming for people facing a prison sentence. Community Corrections Officers are responsible for the supervision and are assigned a caseload of participants who are sentenced under FOSA or have been placed in the community on electronic monitoring as a part of the CPA program.

Risk Assessment

Judges may request the Department of Corrections (DOC) complete a risk assessment report and/or substance abuse screening prior to sentencing.

As part of the risk assessment, the DCYF Children’s Administration will inform the court if the agency has an open child welfare case or if there were prior substantiated referrals of abuse or neglect involving the person facing prison confinement. If there is an open case, Children’s Administration will provide a report to the court within seven business days.

FOSA Orders Can Be Revoked

DOC will provide quarterly progress reports to the court regarding the participants’ progress in programming, treatment, and other supervision requirements.

Judges have the authority to require the participant to appear at court to evaluate progress or address violations of supervision. They can modify conditions, impose confinement within the standard range, or revoke the alternate sentence and remand them to prison to serve their sentence if the court determines the participant violated the conditions or is failing to make progress in treatment. The time spent in the community will not be credited toward the confinement time.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. People facing prison confinement are eligible for the Family and Offender Sentencing Alternative (FOSA) if they meet all of the following conditions:
    • Be an expectant parent, a parent with physical custody of a minor child, a legal guardian of a minor child, or
    • Be a biological/adoptive parent, custodian, or stepparent with a proven, established, ongoing, and substantial relationship with a minor child that existed at the time of the current offense
    • Will be sentenced for an offense where the high end of the standard sentence range is greater than one year
    • Sign a release of information waiver regarding current and/or prior child welfare involvement

    They may not:

    • Have current conviction for a felony violent offense
    • Have current or prior convictions for a felony sex offense and/or serious offense
    • Have a felony offense where the individual was armed with a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission of the offense

    *Minor child means a biological or adopted child of the incarcerated individual who is under the age of 18 at the time of the incarcerated individual's current offense.

  2. All 5 authorization forms for Release of Information (ROI) must be completed, signed by the FOSA participant that will be under Department jurisdiction, and submitted for further consideration. Instructions are available.
  3. Submit your completed authorization forms in one of the following ways:
    • Take the completed forms to your attorney
    • Your attorney will send the ROIs with a signed court order for a FOSA assessment to email box
    • Court Order forms can be obtained by emailing the above email.

For more information on the Family Offender Sentencing Alternative, see the Frequently Asked Questions and Resources.