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Community Based Corrections

UNIT 9 Final Essay Malcolm Johnson Kaplan University CM103-05 Professor Clay 9/1/2011 There are two primary goals of the United States corrections system. One of those goals is to punish offenders. The most common form of punishment is incarceration. There is also probation, house arrest, home electronic monitoring, and other less severe forms of punishment according to the crime committed. The second goal of corrections is to rehabilitate offenders. Some forms of rehabilitation can include job training, drug treatment, and counseling. Incarceration is the most expensive form of punishment.

The cost to house offenders in the United States is over 60 billion dollars nationwide (Clearinghouse 2001). In 2009, there were over 2. 2 million prisoners in U. S. jails with the daily cost averaging $40 . The types of crimes varied. Among non-violent crimes committed, people convicted of burglary served the longest average sentence of 14 years and three months (Nyden, P. J. 2011, April 17). There is a general belief that the punishment should always fit the crime. Over 50% of the inmates incarcerated were non-violent offenders (Clearinghouse 2001).

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Most of these convicted offenders received lengthy mandatory sentences or fell under the “three strikes” laws, and the reduction of parole and early release. In 2010, more that 72% of all new prisoners were convicted of non-violent offenses. (Nyden, P. J. 2011, April17) Considering that the cost to keep offenders incarcerated is very expensive, I think that the majority of the money should be used to house violent offenders such as murderers, rapists, and child predators/molesters, for which there should be no parole or any kind of early release.

There should be a time cap on appeals for those that are being considered for execution. In my opinion, non-violent offenders should be diverted to local treatment and training programs and money should be invested in probation and rehabilitation programs. By following this method, one state has saved more than 1 billion dollars on correction cost and lowered its incarceration rate by more than 9% (cityBusiness, S . n. d) Community-based corrections seem to be the best option between punishment and rehabilitation considering the financial cost, and the various options available for rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation covers many aspects, including addressing primary and secondary criminogenic factors such as criminal attitudes and drug use. There are several treatment options for drug offenders such as therapeutic communities. They are intensive, long-term, highly-structured, residential treatment models for chronic, hard core drug users. Also, there are pharmacological maintenance programs that involve long-term administration of a medication that either replaces the illicit drug or blocks its actions.

The goal of treatment for offenders is to return them to society as productive citizens free of addiction, and secondly to reduce the cost of drug-related crime. Reports show that for every dollar spent on treatment, it saves a community three dollars in return. Those savings come from reduced crime and reduced health care costs. A survey in 1999 found that only 3. 3% of patients of a treatment program were likely to be rearrested in the first six months after release from the program, compared to the 12. 1% of offenders who did not get treatment. (S.

Belenko, “Research on drug courts 1998”) In the early 1970’s a program called (TASC) Treatment Accountability for Safer Communications pointed out that authority of the criminal justice system can be used to get individuals into treatment, and to manage drug-abusing offenders safely and effectively in the community. Community-based programs working alongside rehabilitation services coincide with criminal justice sanctions that reinforce the overall treatment procedure. The program keeps a close eye on the progress of the client, including abstinence from drugs, employment status, and overall social interactions.

Another form of outpatient treatment that has shown to be a promising alternative to incarceration is drug courts. Overseen by a sitting judge, a drug court is an intensive treatment, rehabilitation, and supervision program for drug offenders. Drug courts which got their start in 1989 are utilized in all 50 states. A survey conducted by the drug court clearinghouse states that as of the year 2001 there were more than 1,050 drug courts that were operational or in planning. The states with the most drug court programs are Calif. 142) Florida (65) New York (63) (Offce, oct 2000) Drug courts have shown the potential to save state governments substantial amounts of money. A drug court in Washington D. C. reported that a participant processed through treatment saves the district between $4,000 and $9,000 per client in housing cost. Prosecution cost was also reduced by an estimated $100,000 annually. (Office, October 1997) The incarceration form of punishment, while keeping offenders off the streets and is a way of keeping the community safe, is not effective by itself.

Due to overcrowding, some convicted offenders may get a slap on the wrist and will not serve a proper sentence. That approach alone in my view will not deter offenders from committing future crimes. Many rehabilitation approaches need to focus on high risk offenders to be more cost effective and behaviorally effective. While drug offenders are being held for long sentences, they are not being rehabilitated properly. Some reasons for inefficient treatment include not lack of money in prison budgets to have programs inside or the programs that are in place are getting phased out.

Either way when offenders do return to society, their way of life is pretty much the same so they go right back to doing what they were doing before incarceration, which is committing crime. Bottom line, they will not function properly in society. Again, rehabilitation approaches alone are not effective. I think the combination of these two goals, punishment and rehabilitation, are more effective in terms of reducing crime and costs associated with the criminal justice system. Punishment alone is not financially responsible and does not deter.

If more focus and resources were put into rehabilitation while incarcerated, meaning make non-violent and first time offenders who end up in prison or jail participate in some kind of program whether its job training or counseling, vocational skills, and mainly education, in my opinion the rate of recidivism would ultimately come down as a result. The time and money spent on long-term offenders appealing convictions should cut down to a minimum timeframe. There should be a limit on chances of parole if someone is up for parole after a certain amount of years and gets denied time after time.

In my view if you have not rehabilitated within that timeframe than the chances are poor that you will ever become a productive citizen in society. I am a proponent of the death penalty, so that being said, death row inmates should have a minimum time on death row and their executions should be carried out in a timely manner saving even more money to the states that practice this particular form of punishment. As I have pointed out, each goal is not terribly effective in reducing crime, recidivism, cost and behavior by itself.

I think that combining both goals will provide for more effective outcomes in all the areas listed above. More research is needed to determine how the two goals could complement each other. Perhaps studying other countries and how they approach the idea of corrections is a good place to start considering that we have over 2. 2 million people in our prison systems. I think some of my ideas that I discussed would be helpful to this task. Ultimately, we want a safer society and we all know that crime will not be eliminated.

The first step in that is acknowledging that our current criminal justice system could use an overhaul. References CityBusiness, S. (n. d). Commentary: Closing prisons the right move. New Orleans CityBusiness (LA), Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Nyden, P. J. (2011, April 17). W. VA No. 2 in growing prison population. Charleston Gazette, The (WV). Retrieved from EBSCOhost Drug Policy Clearinghouse (March 2001) S. Belenko, “Research on drug courts: A critical review,” National Drug Court Institute Review, (1998)


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