Alternatives to Prison
Alternatives to Prison
The prison system is commonly used to punish offenders in the criminal justice system. However, this system does not work effectively, as many of those released from prison end up being rearrested after some time. In addition, the high cost of running and maintaining the prison system is burdening. The prison system is problematic as it causes more problems for the offenders. Some end up being harassed and abused while in prison. Furthermore, offenders do not get a chance to rectify their behavior and to seek treatment for conditions such as drug addiction while they are incarcerated. These problems highlight the need of using different alternatives such as probation, halfway houses, community work programs, parole supervision, counseling, and work release programs.
The alternative programs are effective in correcting behavior and giving the offenders a chance to stop their problem of drug or substance addiction. The offender has to work for the people through the community service programs. Alternative programs are especially important for first time offenders. Such offenders are more likely to fear going to prison. Participating in community level programs gives them a chance to improve their behavior. In addition, the offenders do not get the chance of being influenced negatively by other offenders. The alternative programs still punish the offenders. It limits their level of freedom, especially in cases of house arrest. The offender loses his sense of freedom when he is in close supervision with his parole officers.
Probation requires the offenders to comply with certain rules such as submitting the results of the drug tests frequently. Offenders have to work in the community, which is important for maintaining the stability of families and ensuring that the offenders continue to work. In addition, offenders have to pay fines and other obligations to the court and to the community. Probation officers ensure that the offenders are out of trouble and that they follow the judges’ instructions. They help the offenders secure employment and other services. Poverty increases the rates of crime. Poor people are driven to steal and perform other criminal acts for their survival. Giving them an opportunity to work and get money helps in reducing the rates of crime (Cole et al., 2012).
Punishing offenders through home confinement tends to be effective in monitoring behavior. Technology has improved the process, as the confinement uses electronic gadgets. The wearer has a gadget all the time. It notifies the probation officers once the offender leaves the home. Home confinement also involves constant communication with the probation officers. It is important to identify the right correction alternative to use. This ensures that the offenders receive the problems they need to overcome their problems. For instance, home confinement is not effective for people with drug problems (Elrod & Ryder, 2011).
Alternative correction programs are effective for different types of offenders. However, the judge needs to be aware of the most appropriate method to use to guarantee success (Elrod & Ryder, 2011). Some of the programs are intensive and they involve the probation officers to be present frequently and to apply cognitive behavior techniques. This does not solve the problem of cost, as the programs tend to be more expensive. Another problem is the lack of adequate probation officers to handle the many caseloads in the system. The officers are overworked and this interferes with their ability to undertake their duties more effectively. Despite the challenges, the benefits of the alternative correction programs outweigh the costs.
Cole, F. G., Smith, E. C., & DeJong, C. (2012). The American system of criminal justice, 13ed. New York, NY: Cengage Learning
Elrod, P., & Ryder, S. (2011). Juvenile justice: A social, historical and legal perspective. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning