With criticism mounting of how he handled the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Atlantic County NJ Prosecutor James McClain issued a strong defense of his decision allowing Rice to avoid jail time for hitting his fiancee, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim, and considering all the parameters,” he told the Atlantic City Press.
McClain said that even if Rice had been convicted of the aggravated assault charge he faced, as a first-time offender he likely would have received only a probationary sentence. “People need to understand, the choice was not (pretrial intervention or PTI) vs. five years state prison,” he said. “The choice was not PTI vs. the No Early Release Act on a 10-year sentence. The parameters as they existed were: Is this a PTI case or a probation case?” PTI allows rehabilitation without incarceration. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said McClain’s explanation underscored his concerns about how pretrial intervention works. The prosecutor didn’t “have many choices here,” Sweeney said, “but as a legislator, I do. If this is the way the system works, where domestic abuse is being treated like a traffic violation . . . we are going to understand why the prosecutor was forced to do what he did.”