Dare I say it, I am starting to feel bad for Chris Brown! After breaking internal rules at his court-ordered rehab program (to treat his anger
problem addiction), Chris Brown was kicked out of the program thereby violating the terms and conditions of probation. He was hauled off by sheriff’s deputies to the county jail.
His mea culpas in the rehab program? 1) Violating the rule that he must stay 2 feet away from female rehabers (he was seen touching a woman’s arm and elbow); 2) he left the facility for an unauthorized outing; and 3) he refused a drug test (which later came up negative) upon his return. Really?
Because Chris Brown touched a woman’s arm we now must use our tax dollars to incarcerate him in an over-crowded jail almost five years after he admitted to beating Rihanna (the offense for which he is on felony probation). Chris Brown is just another example of how felony probation is much like herpes, the gift that keeps on giving. It is much harder than it sounds to successfully complete felony probation…
On Monday, the court rejected Brown’s request to be released pending the probation violation hearing. He now must sit in the pokey for a month while he awaits the felony probation violation hearing. At said hearing, the prosecution need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Brown violated the terms and conditions of his probation and the judge is free to sentence him to the maximum term of imprisonment of the underlying offense for which he is on probation. Here, that is four years. The prosecution and defense can come to an agreement that if Brown admits his violation and does not proceed to a hearing he will serve an agreed upon sentence.
On one hand, his transgressions seem petty. On the other hand, he has a pending case for new criminal conduct in D.C. for which the prosecution already sought incarceration. A term and condition of any felony probation is to refrain from violating the law. Rehab was Brown’s get out of jail free card. He burned that card. Odds are he’ll do some time, but my prediction is not more than a few months.
So why do I feel bad for someone who is clearly his own worst enemy? Because I generally feel bad for people who have to go to jail — it is just sad. More than that, Brown suffers from bipolar disorder and PTSD which makes me think to some degree he lacks control over his impulsive behavior.
He needs help; he can afford help. Requiring that we pay to incarcerate him accomplishes nothing when he can readily pay for treatment. Yes, he violated the rules of treatment, but they were pretty small violations. He should be given yet another chance.
Jenny M. Brandt is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in the Bay Area, California. She loves all things criminal law, celebrity gossip, and corgis, and has a blog at www.juicejusticeandcorgis.com. She graduated from UCLA (’05) and UCLA School of Law (’09) with a concentration in Critical Race Studies.