The effectiveness of diversion programs for nonviolent offenders

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Introduction

A criminal conviction does not necessarily mean that individuals will be subjected to jail or prison. In some cases, individuals are afforded the opportunity of attending a diversion program. Depending on the type of crime and the number of offenses, an individual could attend a diversion program with the permission of a judge. Diversion programs are designed to help certain offenders overcome their bad tendencies and drug and/or alcohol addictions. The one lingering question is do diversion programs really help offenders make the transition from prison to society and becoming a productive member of the society. With diversion programs, offenders are given the resources they need to work through their issues, problems, addictions, and the chances of those individuals committing another crime in the future may decrease.

Concepts

Non-violent crimes and recidivism

First, think about the term non-violent. A non-violent crime usually means that no physical harm came to any individual. Though non-violent crimes can cause indirect harm to individuals for example, the Bernard Madoff incident did cause some suicides. One reported incident stated that an individual did commit suicide after losing all of the money to Madoff for it was a way to avoid bankruptcy. That is an example of how non-violent crimes can indirectly cause harm but on a different note those kind of incidents do not happen that often. The correctional plan for persons convicted of non-violent crimes must include an aggressive education plan. The education for a non-violent crime should fit the particular crime in which the individual was convicted of for instance, writing bad checks, substance abuse, or theft.

Three strikes law and non-violent offenders

The premise of the three strikes laws are best served for serious or violent crimes and the key word is convicted of a felony. In reality, there are gray areas when it comes to the three strikes law and non-violent crimes and offenders. For example, writing bad checks can get a person a jail sentence and if the third time a conviction is imposed on a individual they could face the three strikes law. Constant debate over non-violent crimes and whether a person should receive a life sentence for non-violent crimes.

Adult diversion programs and 1st time offenders.

A good combination for individuals who are willing and are eligible to participate in the program. These types of programs are meant for individuals who are only for misdemeanors such as worthless checks. Felony convictions can attend diversion programs but it would that written recommendations from the judge which would involve some serious commitment from the individual that they do want to be better.

Theoretical considerations

Alfred Alder's Individual Psychology

Social Learning Theory

Kohlberg's Theory of Moral development

Hypothesis

Jail diversion programs may reduce the rates of recidivism because they provide non-violent offenders who are jailed for the first time treatment options, support groups, and overall the opportunity for a second chance.

General approach

Program evaluation of the jail diversion program for incarcerated individuals who may have substance abuse or mental illness issues. Jail Diversion programs provides court-based services to individuals who are eligible with psychiatric and co-occurring (mental illness and substance abuse) disorders who are arrested on minor or non-violent offenses.  

Goals

To know if jail diversion programs are effective in reducing recidivism.

Literature Review

Knight, L., & Stephens, M. (2009). Mentally disordered offenders in prison: A tale of neglect? Retrieved from http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Knight_Stephens_Mentally_Disordered_Offenders.pdf

The article examines whether inmates who have a mental disorder should be considered as patients or prisoners. Prison system are meant for security and control but when it comes to the housing of inmates with mental disorders it is suggested that those particular inmates should be afforded the opportunity for better treatment within prison walls. "The Mountbatten Report in 1966, following a series of escapes from high security prisons, led to greater emphasis on security and control" (Knight & Stephens, 2009). This upgrade in security left gaps in the system because mental ill inmates was disregarded and because of this it caused a reform in the way prisons treat or do not treat mentally ill inmates. Bottom line is that the mistreatment of mentally ill inmates caused human rights issues which prompted a few legislative measures to ensure they get proper treatment for their illnesses.

Ashraf, H. (2003). US Supreme Court limits forced drugging of mentally ill before trail. Lancet, 361(9375), 2131. Academic Search Premier Database.

The article goes on to explain that for the reason of standing court that mentally ill prisoners can take their prescribed medicine to stand trial. The issue arises for the case of mentally ill prisoners to stand trial for committing a non-violent crime. The article explains how the United States Supreme Court based a decision limiting the use of force drugs in order to make non-violent offenders competent for standing trials.

LaFree, G., & Erlanger, H. (2002). Too much democracy or too much crime: Lessons from California's Three-Strikes Law. Law & Social Inquiry, 27(4), 875. Academic Search Premier Database.

The authors of this article go on explain the problems that were uncovered with some research done on democracy and the effects it has on crime. They also give a history of the Three Strikes Law and note how there needs to be a reform of it. One of the crucial finds of their study was that they were able to note that with the laws in place there was not a significant drop in the crime rate based on the Three Strikes Law. It was purposed that deterrence tactics were better suited in reducing crime.

Akins, S., Smith, C., & Mosher, C. (2010). Pathways to adult alcohol abuse across racial/ethnic groups: An application of general strain and social learning theories. Journal of Drug Issues, 40(2), 321-351. Retrieved from Academic Search Database.

This article takes the three largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States of America and applies theories on why drugs and alcohol has different impacts on the number of users. The largest groups are Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics. The application of the Social Learning Theory and the General Strain Theory has different applications on users in these communities. Much of the article can lead to conclusions on why the pattern of drinking could lead to why there are many Blacks and Hispanics that occupy our prison systems.

Steadman, H., & Naples, M. (2005). Assessing the effectiveness of jail diversion programs for persons with serious mental issues and co-occurring substance use disorders. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 23(2), 163-170. Retrieved from doi:10.1002/bsl.640

The article explains how diversion programs help offenders with mental illness and/or substance abusing behaviors. The purpose of the article is to show that diversion programs can help as it was reported that monitored individuals were not committing crimes after their release from prison.

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