SENTENCE MITIGATION THROUGH MORAL RECONATION THERAPY - MRT®
Moral Reconation Therapy is a unique cognitive behavioral methodology used for over 25 years with criminal offender populations. The MRT program is designed to alter how offenders think and how they make decisions about right and wrong. The curriculum breaks down the entitlement, denial, defensiveness and blaming that underlies most criminal offenders’ belief systems. Using proprietary materials, participants work through the program’s 12 steps over 24-36 weeks. They first gain an understanding of how their beliefs led to their involvement with the criminal justice system. By the end of the program they are creating short and long term life goals based on pro-social behaviors that will lead them away from future criminal activity.
The client’s participation in MRT in advance of sentencing can enhance arguments for sentence mitigation in the following ways:
- It allows the client to complete the program in its entirety before sentencing or, if that is not possible, to at least make significant progress in the program to demonstrate that completion is likely.
- It allows defense counsel to approach the prosecutor with demonstrable proof that the client views the charges seriously and is taking pro-active and meaningful steps to address the factors that brought him or her into the criminal justice system. This may persuade the prosecutor to agree to a more lenient outcome in plea negotiations, or to make a more lenient sentencing recommendation to the court.
- It enhances defense counsel’s arguments to the court that the client is serious about changes in behavior and so should receive a lesser sentence than would otherwise be imposed. Participation in a behavior modification program with proven long-term successful outcomes is one of the best character references a client can present.
For defense attorneys and their clients, the availability of MRT as a pre-sentence tool is a win-win. It provides the attorney with credible arguments for sentence mitigation - both at the plea negotiation and sentencing stages - and it provides a meaningful change in the life of the client.