One of the central mandates of the government is to protect its citizens from crime. The government notes behaviours it wants to forbid and establishes consequences for individuals who participate in those actions. The course of punishment differs depending on the crime and circumstance, indicating that society has specific values, morals, and expectations (Hatfield, 2021). One of the forms of punishment is community correction utilized for punishment and rehabilitation. Community correction plays a major role in the US criminal justice by offering an alternative to institutional corrections. The American criminal justice system of policing adjudication and correction faces various challenges prompting an alternative solution (de Castro Rodrigues et al., 2019). At the same time, imprisonment leads to overcrowding, high operation costs, mental health issues, and recidivism. Since the 18th century, the role of prisons to serve the primary purpose of reforming and reintegrating has been under scrutiny, with studies suggesting its ineffectiveness. Imprisonment leads to more victims, racial and ethnic disparity, and challenges in reintegrating ex-offenders into society (Johns, 2018). On the other hand, community correction as an alternative approach directly benefits the community by minimizing recidivism, reducing prison costs, and effectively reintegrating ex-offenders back into society.
Reduction of Recidivism
The first objective of community correction is to minimize recidivism. As most research indicates, recidivism rates in imprisonment cases have remained relatively high, as 75% of the offenders are likely to be rearrested within five years of release (Jones, 2018). The rationale for longer sentences in incarceration is that the long length of the sentence will be distasteful enough to minimize the chances of offenses. Additionally, supporters of imprisonment believe the severity of the punishment and the educational programs in the prisons will increase the likelihood of being involved in non-criminal activities. Unfortunately, increased imprisonment only translates to additional people convicted of marginal offences, a place to learn new crimes from association with another experienced inmate, increasing the offender’s resentment against the society (Jones, 2018). The incarceration limits employment prospects and access to social services.
Community correction reduces recidivism. When used appropriately, the community corrections act a restorative justice based on evidence-based practices, which can sustain the positive influence of the ex-offenders. Community correction minimizes future criminal activity by 30% (Johnson, 2019). According to the risk principle, a more intensive level of treatment is most effective for higher-risk individuals. These interventions must involve the offenders’ motivation, cognitive ability, and personal traits. Corrective measures are not severe but offer the offender a chance to correct their mistake. Corrective measures help offenders change their harmful thinking patterns and establish g pro-social skills. A recent study indicates that recidivism has been reduced most through effective modelling, reinforcing pro-social attitudes, and learning concrete problem-solving skills (Johnson, 2019). Additionally, probation officers with risk and responsive training can help minimize recidivism more than their untrained counterparts. These findings indicate that while prison custody serves as a corrective measure in the US and other nations, community corrective measures have a better chance of reducing recidivism.
Imprisonment is expensive. With the ever-rising cases of imprisonment, so does the cost of running the facilities, causing misuse the public resources. Significant financial consideration includes safety and security, recruitment, training, and salaries. Beyond the direct costs, other indirect costs include bail fees, visitation, policing, and calls. The government spends an estimated $81 billion on imprisonment. The total imprisons cost $180 billion annually, 10-20 times higher than community correction costs (Johns, 2018). Such an amount of resources can be diverted elsewhere to be more productive.
Community correction is significantly cheaper than imprisonment. Offenders can live in their homes. In residential programs where the offender lives at a facility, the cost is significantly lower. Those in the community can be employed to cater to themselves and their families (Cullen et al., 2018). Unlike incarceration, where offenders have a long-term employment barrier after release and prejudice, community correction allows the offenders to be productive members of society. Besides, community correction is likely to compensate the victims through restitution and community service. A study indicates that 74% of the public favours spending on approaches that reduce the chance of offenders committing a crime (NIC, 2016). More than 90% of citizens believe that training, mental health measures, and family support are integral factors in reducing the crime rates (NIC, 2016). Additionally, most crime victims (61%) compared to others (50%) believes the community correction approaches of prevention and rehabilitation needs to the most significant objective of the justice system through the correction cost saving can be realized by avoiding the prison costs
Integration ex-offenders back into the society
Community correction involves agencies that supervise community members under the criminal justice system (Cullen et al., 2018). These individuals involve those released on pretrial supervision, those in diversionary programs and services, those under probation or other forms of community supervision, and others released from confinement under some form of confinement. The correction process involves counseling services to the offender in an attempt to help them cope adequately with a new environment and perspective other than prison. Most of the offenders in the incarceration system are often unable to integrate back into society due to rejection from the community. The isolation leads the offenders to feel isolated, increases mental health issues, and worst-case suicides (de Castro Rodrigues et al., 2019). The community correction counselling will help the offenders comprehend their helplessness and hopelessness emotions to ensure they focus on establishing a new life.
Reintegration emphasizes the offenders’ behavioural change and ways the community effectively supports the rehabilitation. Any form of integration must be linked to the offenders’ integration. The original purpose of community correction is to rehabilitate offenders. Supportive programs of community correction include mental health, substance abuse education, housing, public benefit, and community health center (Jones, 2018). Crime prevention strategies need to be tailor-made solutions depending on the specific crime and situation. The empirical reality is that criminal history is a strong predictor of repeating a crime that reduces the public confidence to integrate back these convicts (de Castro Rodrigues et al., 2019). Hence, persuading the employers and the community to accept these members depends on the criminal justice correction programs to be considered positive credentials. The overriding challenge is transforming the offenders into something greater than e-offender status. The specific conclusion of the correction is observed as an occasion for relief in which revocation was avoided. The nature of the correction needs to be conceived as the attainment of new status as a redeemed citizen ready to contribute to society. Rather than wait for crimes to occur, the community correction can identify high-risk individuals and offer them access to social services to improve their relationship with society. Some offenders close monitoring than others, and the community programs must be device effective screening mechanism to diagnose their needs.
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The argument against Community Correction
While community correction has proved beneficial, some argue that imprisonment is the optimal solution for protecting citizens against crime. As one of the major forms of punishment, imprisonment is utilized with various objectives, including punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Some believe that community safety may be compromised when the criminal courts assign community correction to those who least need it. Offenders who commit crimes repeatedly get many opportunities to reenter the community. Given the minimal incentives to conduct themselves desirably, these offenders continue to engage in community endangering activities. Society, through imprisonment, punishes unlawful behaviours for deterring others from engaging in similar undesirable conduct (de Castro Rodrigues et al., 2019). While most law-abiding citizens may consider community correction desirable to confinement, some who engage in a criminal action may report otherwise. Some surveys indicate long-term offenders find community corrective measures more punitive than incarceration (Hatfield, 2021). Nonetheless, while these findings support incarceration over community correction, they do not offer substantial evidence-based evidence for the offender and the community benefits. While the increase in incarceration is likely to minimize the crime rate in the short-run, community correction offers concrete ways to decrease crime, protect the victim, and transform the offender.
In sum, the government aims to protect its citizen and must utilize the most optimal approach to eradicate crime. Based on the above analysis, community-based correction offers a more beneficial and sustainable crime eradication approach. On one hand, incarnation as a punishment method is not effective in supporting public safety. Unfortunately, the method uncertainty of apprehension, charges, and presumed severity of the punishment increase the crime rate. On the other hand, community correction has proven to be more effective by reducing recidivism, lower costs, and a higher rate of reintegrating into society. Community correction reduces the reoccurrence of criminal conduct by 30%, reduces costs compared to state prison by 20 times, and allows the ex-offenders back into the society. Hence, while imprisonment produces crucial public safety measures, community correction offers a more effective, less expensive, and lasting solution.
de Castro Rodrigues, A., Sacau, A., de Oliveira, J. Q., & Gonçalves, R. A. (2019). Prison sentences: last resort or the default sanction?. Psychology, Crime & Law, 25(2), 171-194.
Johnson, B. (2019). Do Criminal Laws Deter Crime?: Deterrence Theory in Criminal Justice Policy: A Primer. MN House Research.