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The rate of recidivism in the society has risen significantly. Recidivism is the measure of the rate at which offenders commit another crime after conviction, or after serving a term in prison. There are several reasons that are associated with recidivism in the country and exclusion is one of them. Once an offender is released from incarceration, they are with a myriad of challenges. The society is not ready to integrate and assimilate them back to the mainstream. The society literally rejects the ex-convict; they have no access to education, or vocational training, no gainful employment and cannot even afford decent housing. This is the reason why most of them return to small communities plagued with poverty and crime, which eventually leads to another arrest. Secondly, economic status of the ex-offenders contributes to the rate of recidivism in the country. Owing to the lack of skills to secure a decent job coupled with the fact that employers are not willing to offer jobs to anyone with a criminal record, life becomes unbearable to most of the ex-convicts (Zamble and Quinsey, 2000). They cannot afford a decent living and for some, life behind bars would be suitable since everything is free in prison. This essay explores two judicial aspects of lowering recidivism.
The first measure is through restorative justice. Restorative justice works under the doctrine of repairing the harm inflicted. Restorative justice takes into account all parties involved in a case; the offender and the victim, or the society. This type of judicial system gives the offender and the victim a chance to talk and solve the case themselves through apology by, mediation, conferencing, and healing circles. It works on the premise that the victim, or the community was affected by the crime committed by the offender, and therefore restoration should follow. Consequently, the offender ought to make amends and this is done through restoration programs. Restorative justice benefits both the offender and the victim: First, the victim heals from the harm inflicted by the offender. Dialogue ensures that the victim is satisfied with the agreement that will be reached. In addition, the offender is given a chance to be accountable for their crimes. Similarly, the offender is able to avoid future similar offences.
However, not all types of crimes can be decided upon by means of restorative justice, but only the minor cases that cause minimal damage to the victim fit in this category (Zamble, 2000). They include crimes like burglary. It is assumed that during burglary, the offender and the victim do not come face to face, the harm is through the stolen properties and damage of properties, but not physical. Therefore, such a case can be settled through restorative justice. The offender can be asked to issue an apology, return the stolen property, or is placed under community service. Other cases that can be decided through restorative justice are corruption, theft, domestic violence, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Though restorative programs have recently been adapted in most societies, they have proven to be useful in reducing recidivism consequently reducing the number of prisoners in the collection centers whose population is alarming (Tyler, 2006). Previously, these programs were used for juvenile cases with short records and relatively minor crimes, and they proved to be helpful. Therefore, they were soon adapted for cases involving adults as well (Zamble and Quinsey, 2000). This ruling; however, cannot be helpful when deciding upon serious crimes like homicide. Some critics argue that the damage caused in homicide is enormous and dialogue, mediation, or a mare apology cannot appease it. Victims of homicide, especially relatives to the person killed take long to heal; and therefore, lengthening the mediation process (Zamble and Quinsey, 2000).
Recidivism can also be lowered by procedural or moral justice. Procedural or moral justice works under the premise of fairness. Morality is the ability to distinguish right from wrong when making choices. Therefore, when one commits a crime, they choose to do so harming the victims. Working on this premise, it is only fair that they are treated with the same way they treated their victim. Tyler (2006) believes that fair procedures guarantee fair outcomes. Thus, procedural justice should ensure that like cases are treated alike; those ruling are neutral and impartial. It is also paramount that the parties involved are represented during the procedure and the decision is reached in a transparent manner.
The court systems in the society represent these procedures: The judges and the jurors ought to be neutral since they do not decide cases based on opinion, but on the basis of the federal rules and laws. Secondly, both parties are represented in the court by their attorneys and the ruling is believed to be fair and just. The legal proceedings in the court systems ensure that fair trial takes place, especially in retributive justice. Procedural justice has helped reduce recidivism significantly; the legal proceedings are fair and just, and if one do several years in prison the fear of going in again keeps them away from committing felony.
States courts have come up with laws aimed at reducing recidivism. For instance, Washington habitual criminal statutes imposes a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment for anybody convicted of a second crime, or third petition larceny shortly after release from prison. The state of California also has a similar law called Three- Strike Law imposed in 1994. This law increases sentencing when a recidivist commits additional crimes. For instance, once an offender commits a second felony, the sentencing is doubled and tripled for the third felony. In addition, the congress responded to the recidivism rate in the US by enhancing the Violent Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.This act mandates life imprisonment for a serious violent felony, or for a combination of two more serious felonies. These laws are coercive in nature and the fear of serving a lifetime imprisonment has helped reduce recidivism across the country (Zamble and Quinsey, 2000).
This type of justice is mostly used when deciding more serious cases like homicide, sexual violence and abuse, and violent crimes. Offenders of these crimes cause grave harm to the victims, and the legal procedures become necessary in serving justice.
When deciding the type of justice that is most effective in dealing with recidivism, it is more appropriate to base the argument on the theories of crime. For the purposes of understanding correctional justice, it is important to consider Psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud and Social Learning theory by Albert Bandura. In psychoanalytic theory, Sigmund states that human beings are led by certain instincts in life to satisfy their need for food, shelter, and warmth, all of which have crime tendencies. These criminal tendencies are intensified by faulty identification by a child with their parent. Parents play a pivotal role in socializing the child; a child not socialized appropriately may develop personality disturbance that may cause them to direct the antisocial disturbance inwards or outwards (Grant, 2001). The one who directs them outside is likely to engage in deviant behaviors such as crime while the one who directs them inward become neurotic. Albertâ€™s Social Learning theory, also known as the observation theory, postulates that individuals, especially children learn from the surrounding. While coming up with this theory, Albert used children and gave them bobo dolls to play with. He used a video where the demonstrator would hit the doll and the kids imitated her. The observation theory therefore observed that learning occurs when people imitate, or copy the behaviors of others. He therefore concluded that individuals living in high crime rate areas are likely to act more violently than those living in low crime rate areas. These theories are similar to Shaw and McKayâ€™s theory of social disorganization (Grant, 2001).
These theories state that society has a role in the life of an individual through direct socialization like in Freudâ€™s psychoanalytical theory, or indirect socialization by the environment as in the case of Banduraâ€™s social learning theory. Since the society plays a big role in the crimes one commits, deciding the cases through restorative programs is more appropriate than through the procedural justice. Restorative justice gives the offender a chance to make amends for their crimes. Unlike procedural cases where decision is based on what the constitution and federal laws requires, the motives of the crime are thoroughly scrutinized and the best action is taken through mediation or dialogue (Tyler, 2006). Restorative justice does not imply that the offender does not pay for the crime committed. On the contrary, most of the offenders serve jail terms, but they are given a chance to make amends at a personal level. This type of justice gives time for the victim to heal more so if crime committed was homicide. It might take long to heal, but they eventually do.
The best approach in dealing with recidivism is therefore through restorative justice. The fact that the offender is given a chance to amend his crimes reduces his chances of committing the crime. Some critics argue that procedural justice is more appropriate in reducing recidivism since it inflicts fear making owing to its coercive nature. However, coercive measures make breeds rebellion, instead of reducing the rate of recidivism, it might be actually brooding offenders.