The Residential Community And Intermediate Sanctions Criminology Essay

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Residential Community correction encompasses a number of alternative punishments for criminals considered non-violent. There are two models of community corrections applied in the United States: integrated community corrections (front end) -brings both judicial discretion and sentencing guidelines together with a range of alternative programs, probation and parole options; the second model (back end) refers to programs whereby correctional officials direct already sentenced offenders into alternative sanction programs and parole and probation options (Nieto, 1996). All these models have the sole objective of reducing overcrowding and costs of running prisons. Community correction sanctions are applied for specific type of offenders. First, are the offenders who are likely to gain from prevention measures and are predisposed to future criminal activities. Such include college/school drop-outs, juveniles with learning disabilities, and urban youth gang members. Second, are the offenders who are likely to gain from early intervention programs and consists of first time offenders. Early intervention programs reduce their chance of committing crimes in future. Third, are offenders appropriate for diversion programs and include those in prison who can safely be subjected to alternative services. In most cases they second/or third time offenders that fails on probation as well as having been convicted for a number of non-violent crimes. Besides reducing congestion in prisons, community correction programs achieves a number of advantages: offenders are held accountable, public safety is well protected, increased community service work, increased revenue collection from courts that contract offenders who remains in their current jobs, and both victims and locals are given restitution from offenders who work in their current restitution programs and/or jobs. However, these programs are challenging in terms of human resource required for supervision and in some cases the offenders may violate instructions such as reporting regularly and/or commit new crimes while still under supervision. Its success in future can be achieved by enactment of proper legislations (Byrne, 1990).

Intensive Supervision Programs (ISP) is a surveillance method that requires high ranking offenders to keep in touch with both the community members and correction officers. Thus it aims at increasing control over offenders within the community and reduces the amount of risk associated. Intensive supervision programs is characterized by specific elements which include increased supervision, control and surveillance, more contacts between offenders and correction officers on monthly basis, and a couple of ordered activities for instance vocational training, community service, work, curfew, and treatment and/or testing for drugs. In the United States, offenders who targeted for Intensive Supervision Programs differ among states. In some states, violent offenders are excluded whereas in others they are considered. About 24 states consider repeat offenders and about 6 states consider drug offenders. In general, non-violent offenders who have never 'been convicted of an offense committed after having been confined for the conviction of a felony on a previous occasion may qualify for the ISP' (Nieto, 1996). Specialized Intensive Supervision Programs calls for close supervision for offenders by highly trained officers and individualized counseling including for alcohol and rug abuse, mental impairments, family violence, anger and aggression control and/or sex offender treatment and supervision. Intensive Supervision Programs is challenging in that it involves extensive fieldwork, high risk population and in most cases it is done outside the regular office working hours. Offenders are also subjected to random and weekly drug tests. The current ISP puts much emphasis on supervision and implementation activities and sometimes interjects services and treatment. Its future success will depend on whether there will be a paradigm shift towards complete ideological and behavioral change of the offenders (Byrne, 1990).

Shock incarceration is also refereed to as 'boot camp' programs and it is among the most common intermediate alternative programs. Shock incarceration programs differ in terms of size, location, duration, entry control -corrections' department or the judiciary, 'the level of post-program supervision and in the level of training, education, or treatment programming provided'(Nieto, 1996). These are usually short ranging from three to months and are devised for offenders who have never served any sentence in a state jail. Shock probation programs are similar to military camps where strict discipline, regimentation, obedience, ceremony and drills, and physical conditioning, and sometimes manual labor are stressed. The participants of shock probation programs are supposed to achieve self-discipline, self-respect, and develop teamwork qualities. Besides, shock probation individuals are separately housed from the rest of prison population though in some states they are near other inmates. Shock incarceration aims at changing the behavior of inmates by other means other than hard labor and punishment although in general, it is the main goal of boot camp programs. The New York's shock incarceration program one of the best programs in the United States. It aims at reducing demand for accommodation in the Depart of Correctional Services as well as treating/releasing specific offenders earlier than court-directed punishments without compromising the public safety. Offenders who qualifies for this program are: female and male offenders below 40 years of age in state prisons; first time criminals who are committed to state detention for seven years or fewer for a crime with parole qualification, second-time criminals who have never served in state jails and committed to state detention for seven years or fewer for a crime carrying parole qualification; and no lawbreakers with exceptional crime charges, several exceptional misdemeanor charges, exceptional immigration detainers, physical or mental health predicaments, record of escape or assaulting behavior, overt homosexuality, sex transgressions against a young person or any aggressive sexual crime, or lack of post-release arrangement. The main challenge for this program is that some offenders may become resistant which leads to their dismissal. The New York program has had some benefits which include savings in terms of capital and operational costs and education improvements (Clear & Latessa, 1993).

Public and Private Corrections Institutions

Prison as an institution remains the fundamental means in which a 'just' society can punish, deter, and rehabilitate criminals/offenders within it. Since its inception, the powers of the prison have been bestowed up on by the society and its management has always been conducted government bodies. Of late, the privatization of prison institutions has brought about new developments. The traditional objectives of prisons such as punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation of criminals are no longer the main objectives. The new move has been that private prison institutions are aiming at achieving financial gains from incarceration of inmates (Austin, & Coventry, 2001). However, proponents of prison privatization argue that it aims at ironing out persistent problems within public jails such as recidivism and overcrowding. Such arguments have attracted sharp criticisms from certain quarters within the society in regard to private prisons' underpinnings and ability. Privatizing state prisons has prevailed for sometime in United States since 1800s when the US government entered into a contract with institutions such as New York Auburn and Louisiana to independent investors who then contracted inmates to other business enterprises for labor. The reasons that most state governments argue for privatizing include the costs of constructing new jails to keep up with population of offenders, employment of prison guards in thousands, and other service providers such as for health, catering, and education. Thus, by allowing private institutions to manage prisons, the costs of running the prisons is not generated directly from the public coffers hence the government utilizes such revenue in providing other services to the public. Johnson and Ross (1990) states that in United States there are about 158 privately-owned correction facilities in 30 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Texas leads with about 43 facilities whereas California, Florida, and Colorado have 24, 10, and 9 facilities respectively. Interestingly, all these private facilities seem to be distributed in the Western and Southern United States.

The public debate over privatization of prisons will persist for a long time as many argue that motive behind is the usually profit. Large companies for instance Kentucky Fried Chicken have been criticized for pushing the privatization agenda as they benefit significantly in winning supply contracts for the private prisons. This leads to conflict of interest in delicate issues of public interest. The purpose of incarcerating offenders is not only removing them from the public and punishing them, but to rehabilitate them so as to become responsible individuals which is the main objective of state jails. In the recent, most of the concern in regard to private institutions has been security issues and quality of rehabilitation for both the inmates and general public (Thomas, 1995). To properly compare public and private institutions, the basis of evaluation ought to be based on comparable prison facilities in terms of capacity, design, types of inmates, and level of security. If not, comparison in terms of operating costs and quality of service cannot make sense and thus both private and public correction facilities have unique characteristics. In summary, private and public correction facilities are argued to have a number of both pros and cons. For private correction facilities advantages include: first, they are not governed by many rules and regulations and therefore are able to provide flexible services to inmates such as religion-based alternatives; secondly, individually-owned facilities are not tied by the red tape formalities, union contracts, and other schemes of benefits and this makes them to be in a better situation in regard to providing quality services at low costs. However, private prisons have disadvantages which include but not limited to: the responsibility of entrusting confinement and protection of a person in the hands of private institution is violates the mandate given to the government by the public. What is there is infringement, are such institutions liable to the public? Secondly, every private enterprise is largely motivated by profits. Therefore, the logic that correction facilities should be rehabilitation places to correct society's ill-behaved persons is violated. Thirdly, privately owned correction facilities are far away from any of the general public's watchdog that may investigate its activities unless under matter of urgency e.g. security (Austin and Coventry, 2001).

On the other hand, public correction facilities have a lot of advantages: first, they are more concerned with the welfare of the inmates in terms of health and personal development as well as that of the community around. Hence, measures are put in place to facilitate proper rehabilitation of inmates which guarantees them positive interaction with the public once they are released (Ibid, 2001); secondly, they have a lot of access to better and/or sponsored/funded rehabilitation programs from the government and non-governmental organizations. For instance health services, education, and drug rehabilitation; thirdly, these correction facilities are totally put through public scrutiny and thus inefficient service delivery is rectified; fourth, maximum security of both the general public and inmates is guaranteed in totality. Nevertheless, public correction facilities have their own constraints which include but not limited to: first, for accountability reasons government may fail to privatize some of its institutions which leads to increased intake of inmates. This leads to increased tax burden for the public to provide maintenance in terms of staff required, catering, and accommodation (Austin & Coventry, 2001); secondly, publicly owned correction facilities are subject to and have to comply with a number of Legislative Acts to ensure accountability of both the staff and institution at large. This may lead to delay in provision of certain services (Thomas, 1995).