Take a deeper look into corrections, it seems like a tightly held ship. Yet, the people, funding, and politics are what keep it running. From the judges who hand down the sentence, to the officers themselves who deal with the inmates on a daily basis.
Corrections were not always held in the manner they are today, it is something that shape shifted throughout the centuries. It wasn’t all rehabilitation and reform, it was more mocking in the town square, torture and death sentence. In a quote from (Ch. 2.5 Punishment in the 20th century). “In fact, investigations from the late 19th to the early 20th century consistently found excessive corporal punishment and widespread corruption in prisons across a number of states. Punishments such as hanging by the thumbs; whippings; beatings; water tortures; solitary confinement in cramped, dark dungeons; and starvation diets of bread and water were commonplace. These punishments and general prison conditions harkened back to the cruelty of the pre-prison days in medieval society.” (Stojkovia & Lovell, 2013).
The age of reform were said to be during the first two decades of the 20th century, the progressive era brought an end to corporal punishment. Classification, normalization, education and vocational training were all being used within the corrections system. They started to, in a sense treat the prisoners like actual human beings.
By the 80’s the get tough movement came in, which was more of a punitive approach to corrections than a rehabilitative one. The gangs were coming into focus, creating destruction where ever they wanted to. They were growing by the dozens, pulling in young teens, claiming to be their family. They were responsible for murder, robbery, sexual assault and drug possession and sailing. With this get tough, and three strikes you’re out law, the prisons began to over crowd.
With a quote from (Get-tough stance not helping Ohio prison population). “Advocates argue that adopting these policies will allow the state to roll back its prison population to where it was in 2007. If that happens, they estimate the state will save $62 million in corrections costs over four years. … Ohio needs to abandon the expensive fiction that locking up offenders indiscriminately makes us safer. It needs to end the revolving-door system that imprisons low-level criminals briefly, then puts them back on the street without treatment or supervision. It needs to develop coherent probation policies.” (The Toledo Blade, 2011).
Huge amounts of funding go in to every prison, but what about the people? The warden, the officers, medical staff, and therapist have to supply a key functional facility. Most of the inmates are murders, yet the staff must treat them with respect and give them their rights. The have to keep the environment safe for themselves and other inmates. Let’s not forget the probation officers as well, they must keep on top of their cases as well.
When trying to keep someone from entry prison or re-enter society after doing time, these people have a tough job. In this quote from the (American Correctional Association). “We cannot truly expect to have any control of a solution if we do not accept responsibility for the problem. Corrections professionals have begun to embrace that concept. Although we understand that offenders must take responsibility for their lives, we also understand that we can no longer just shrug our shoulders at their failures.
The people that come out of our prisons, jails, community programs and out from under our supervision are our product, and we have to take some responsibility for the quality of that product. This philosophy, as much as anything, has helped change the way we do what we do. It has given us the motivation to succeed at what we do, sometimes in spite of the offenders.” (ACA, ND).
Not only do they want to run a tight ship they see the prisoners as a product of their work. They must do the best they can, go above and beyond the correctional and political approach, and be there for the inmates in every way possible. This is a very large stretch since about 85% of Americas prisons are over populated and understaffed. Funding comes from the tax payers, so the warden and everyone else on the correctional board must decipher how to handle the money, and which keys elements to invest in.
In (Ch. 6.3 Management Issues for Administrators). “Consider the development of a policy, such as the organization’s budget, the resultant of a set of decisions concerning the allocation of its financial resources. Inside the organization, in its internal environment, everyone will be affected, and many will take an interest in attempting to influence the budget decision process.” (Stojkovic & Lovell, 2013).
Why is it so important to keep a tightly ran ship? Because believe it or not prisoners have rights. Many may disagree and say they do not deserve this, they forfeit their rights once they made the decision to do whatever got them in trouble. Yes they deserve to have certain privileges taken away, but also need to be treated as a human being with potential mental problems.
Even though they are detained, every American citizen has a right to the constitutional laws. Habeas Corpus, Due Process, and civil rights. In (Ch. 3.1 Correctional Law: Fundamental Concerns). It high lights these rights, “Prior to being entitled to either due process or substantive rights, prisoners had to be given legal status and access to the courts. So long as prisoners were considered “slaves of the state,” they could not enjoy any right to due process, let alone any substantive rights. This premise was initially stated in the case of Ruffin v. Commonwealth (1872). (Stojkovic & Lovell, 2013).
Due process, “The second basic concern of significance to prisoners is that of due process.”The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution prohibit government from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, even after these persons have been convicted of crimes” (Pelegrin & Braby, 1999, p. 2). (Stojkovic & Lovell, 2013).
Civil Rights, “Civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the supporting federal legislation. Among other civil rights, inmates have rights such as these: to be free from sexual crimes, including sexual harassment; to have adequate medical and mental health care; to complain about prison conditions and voice concerns about the treatment received; and, in the case of prisoners with disabilities, to assert claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (Findlaw, 2012). (Stojkovic & Lovell, 2013).
The warden and officers cannot just throw someone in a cell, and not give them adequate care. If a prisoner feels their rights have been neglected, the officers must take a statement from them, or give them the information of who to report the matter to. If the inmate has any medical issues such as asthma or diabetes, they must routine medical checkups.
Once a prisoner has done their time, or is close to finishing, the prison must get them ready for re-entering society. This is no easy step, it takes many classes and counseling sessions. These inmates have to adapt to the outside world all over again, they must find a job, and conduct themselves in a respectful law abiding manner.
This is where the prison takes on a more rehabilitative role rather than a purely punitive one. Some inmates may need more than others, everyone is different. The staff must be trained, have all the supply’s needed, and must also be pre-pared to defend themselves if need be. Probation officer especially must be extremely careful, can you imagine the intensity they must feel when they must meet with some purely disturbed and violent people being released. Do they feel threatened or scared for their own life if the person does not comply, and must go back?
Many say that probation is a waste of time, yet it does have its uses. When jails are overcrowding, this is a way to reduce it, and also much cheaper than actually housing a prisoner. In (Ch. 8.1 Defining Probation). “Conceptually, the term “probation” refers to “the release to the community of a person convicted of a crime so long as there is compliance with certain conditions of good behavior under the supervision of a probation officer” (Statsky, 1985, p. 604; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011). Probation is considered a community sentence. The probationer, the person on probation, is kept in the community and placed under certain restrictions, monitored by a community corrections agent, who is typically referred to as a probation agent. In practice, probation may closely resemble this definition, or may depart from it to a rather significant extent. (Stojkovic & Lovell, 2013).
It is not meant for everyone, and many abuse the chance that they are given, but it is good for the people who really deserve it, some people need a wakeup call in life, and sometimes probation is it. In an Article called (A Review of probation Home Visit: What do we Know?). “HOME VISITS ARE an important yet understudied component of probation. Historically a cornerstone of probation (Lindner, 1992a), home visits provide an opportunity for probation officers to have quality contact with a client in his or her personal environment. This type of less formal interaction between offenders and their assigned officers serves not only to monitor behavior and compliance with the case plan but also to provide often-needed direction towards treatment and social services.
Furthermore, though time consuming (see DeMichele, 2007), these visits allow the probation officer additional opportunities to act as a positive role model (see Braswell, 1989). Although home visits are seen as a critical tool employed by probation officers, recent evidence demonstrates that home visits are rarely conducted (see Jalbert, Rhodes, Flygare, & Kane, 2010), even for high-risk offenders who might benefit from them the most. (Ahlin, Lobo, Joao, & Carbone, 2013).
There also, home monitoring system, ankle bracelets and alcohol censors. The technology that has expanded the alternatives to jail are widely used now. With these on the offender may not leave their house, unless for school or work. If it is a violation involving alcohol, then the sensor will know when the person has been drinking and alert the police. Is this rehabilitative, or is it just putting a band aid on the situation?
Community corrections is another alternative, it brings the offender out into society, doing community service. Basically the offender is working off their fines or other lesser sentence. It is hard work that will hopefully restructure the offender in some ways. Court ordered therapy and drug court, is another alternative. The person must pee in a cup every week or else back to jail. Group home for juveniles or others offenders that are being released and have no appropriate residence may go into these tightly run homes. They must adhere to the group homes rules and regulations or they are out on the street.
I will close out with my own personal alternative, religion plays a key role in someone’s life. Get the inmates in touch with their local, Priest, Pastor, Rabbi and watch it, albeit slowly turn these offenders around. My church currently helps those recently released get back into society, by showing no judgment for their crimes, they say hey we are going to help you get past the mistakes and live a better life, with go in your life all things are possible. Whatever religion, it is a positive influence that many of these offenders probably never had.
Ahlin, Eileen, Atunes, Joao, & Carbone, (2013). A Review of Probation Home Visits: What do We Know? Federal probation, 000149128, Vol. 77, Issue 3. American Correctional Association,. (2006). The Evolution of Correctional Programs Southeastern Correctional Institution, Ohio. NewsBank,. (2011). Get-tough stance not helping Ohio prison population. Vera Institute of Justice,. (2013). The Potential of Community Corrections to Improve Safety and Reduce Incarceration. Stojkovic, S., & Lovell, R. (2013). Corrections: An Introduction. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.