AK, a 45-year-old mother, was charged with Distribution of Cocaine, over 500grams. AK had struggled with addiction for decades. She had multiple run-ins with the law and had difficulty keeping jobs and caring for her kids.

The evidence against AK was strong. A wiretap captured several phone calls in which she discussed receiving packages of cocaine, cutting the cocaine with additives, then distributing the product. The DEA placed a GPS on her car and saw that she was traveling to the same locations many times per week, and staying at the locations for only a few minutes. DEA agents also saw AK make several hand-to-hand sales of drugs. Lastly, the DEA raided AK’s home and found a significant amount of packaged cocaine, ready for street sales. During the raid, AK told the DEA agents that the “coke” belonged to her.

Given AK’s serious criminal record, she was facing a “Career Offender” sentencing enhancement if convicted. As a Career Offender, she was facing up to 20 years in federal prison.

AK had one good option - the RISE program. The RISE program allows for people whom are charged with crimes to participate in an intense post-plea, pre-sentence program designed to to rehabilitate themselves before sentencing. AK was accepted into the RISE program. She pleaded guilty and entered RISE.

The supervision in RISE was heavy - AK was visited by her probation officer at least once per week at her home; this included home searches. She gave urine samples 1-2 times per week. She provided every pay stub to the probation officer, and her probation officer contacted AK’s employer to verify. AK was also required to maintain a curfew and she had to ask permission to leave the state. Also, AK was required to participate in a multitude of training programs, educational workshops, and restorative justice seminars. AK had to keep a journal and show it to probation.

There were times when AK wanted to leave RISE. She had impulses to just “go back to the street life” and take whatever lengthy sentence she was facing. But she stuck it out. She completed RISE. She found herself following through on promises she’d normally discard. And her relationships with family and friends improved greatly. Her confidence grew, and she developed a stick-to-itiveness that she’d never before possessed.

At sentencing, Attorney Fasoldt requested a sentence of 18 months. The prosecutor agreed with it. So did the judge. AK received a sentence of 18 months in federal prison. Had she not completed RISE, she likely would have received a significantly greater sentence.

Note: RISE is not for everyone.

First, a person must be “out” of jail during their case.

Second, even if the person wants to attend RISE, entry is not guaranteed - a panel of RISE administrators must agree that a person is appropriate for RISE.

Lastly, RISE is difficult. Sobriety is required. A person must be willing to allow for significant government intrusion in their lives, and they have to be completely honest. They have to accept that a probation officer is going to probe deeply into every aspect of that person’s life. And, the person must complete several classes, programs and seminars.