We are all familiar with the concept of prisons and jails as punishment for committing crimes as well has someone receiving probation instead of imprisonment; however there are also community corrections which many of us are unfamiliar with. Community Correction programs are an alternative to sending someone to jail or prison and are often operated by probation or parole agencies (Discover Corrections). The most common type of community corrections is probation or parole with the offender having an assigned officer supervising over him/her outside prison or jail. A common misconception of American people is that individuals who commit a crime will be removed from society and placed within the confines of a correctional institution (Foster, Burk 2006); however using community corrections give the individuals who are placed on probation, parole, or various other intermediate sanctions in that it gives them a second chance to redeem their wrongs in society.
Besides probation and parole there are several other types of community corrections such as; house arrest, halfway houses, to community service doing outdoor work such as graffiti removal and parks maintenance to indoor programs such as cooking and soft toy making to programs to provide support in emergencies. Community corrections can benefit the societies that they are practiced in by being less expensive to run that traditional prisons, probation cuts down on the cost of housing the offenders in a prison or jail which in the end saves the tax payers hundreds, and thousands of dollars for feeding and housing them in a prison. Community corrections programs are said to be an obvious improvement over traditional corrections programs for humanitarian reasons. Community corrections programs are considered to be humanitarian because they avoid many of the negative effects of incarceration, including stigmatization, damage to physical and/or mental health and constant exposure to criminal peers.
Although community corrections can have the positive effects in the societies that use them there is always the chance that the person on probation may not follow the rules of being on probation and that they may continue to commit crimes against society. My hypothesis about community corrections and their overall effectiveness within the correctional system would be that in some cases I feel it could help out society but at the same time it could hurt it. I feel that everyone should be given the benefit of being placed on some type of community corrections for a non-violent first offense (especially juveniles); this gives them the chance to realize that they have done wrong and that they will be punished for their wrong doings. I do like the fact that community corrections helps to keep the cost of running jails and prisons down, and helps with the problem of overcrowding but I do not feel that repeat offenders should continue to get community corrections, they should have to spend time in prison or jail for their actions because they are choosing to continue their bad habits after getting a chance to do better given the benefit of community corrections over prison time.
Many inmates who are incarcerated within foreign countries suffer inhumane conditions in prisons and other detention facilities that are overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe to the point of endangering their lives. Several governments do not respect the basic right of all individuals in detention or incarceration to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person (Text of the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2013). There are high rates of malnutrition and death among prisons, they may not have access to medical treatment, the prisoners are in high risk environments for transmitting diseases, particularly HIV and tuberculosis, and create grave risks to communities in which released prisoners live. Excessive pre-trial detention and dysfunctional justice systems frequently result in prisoners and other detainees spending years in such conditions before their cases are adjudicated. In some countries, such facilities are filled to capacity many times over resulting in conditions so cramped that individual prisoners cannot move without all doing so in mass.
Experts have documented widespread inhumane prison conditions, including overcrowding, inadequate food and water, no access to hygiene products or medical care, juveniles detained with adults, and denial of visits from family. Can you imagine what would happen if the United States adopted one of these prison systems?? I believe that the crime rates in the United States would immediately drop because criminals in the United States are not use to being treated in such an inhumane way. Overall the United States probably has one of the most humane prison systems. I would like to see the community corrections system in my community to be more involved in helping those in need.
My community does use community services by sending offenders to clean parks or work at the county dump collecting trash but I feel making them work with the homeless as part of their punishment may help them to be more appreciative to what they have and encourage them to be a more productive person in the community rather than going out and committing crimes. By having to work a given amount of hours either in a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen or church that helps to feed the homeless or less fortunate they may realize that they may end up in the exact same place as these homeless people because if they continue their life of crime they will be unable to get a job and be a productive member of society. Seeing how bad things can be for others may be exactly what they need to turn their life around and want to do what is right.
References and Citations
Foster, Burk 2006
Text of the Foreign Prison Conditions Improvement Act of 2013