Competing Theories of Corrections

Competing Theories of Corrections

Competing Theories Of Corrections James Bartron American Intercontinental University Abstract As the staffer working in the office a state senator, I have been asked to prepare a detailed outline on correctional theory in general and then make a series of suggestions on ways to implement some of the nontraditional theories of corrections. In reviewing mass incarceration there is often criticism of simple warehousing of human beings who are convicted of crimes. If it is a violent crime there is a need to safeguard society from future criminal acts of a person who is convicted of the most heinous offenses.

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I will describe what the competing theories of corrections are and if they are prevalent in today’s system or not. A review of how the goals of punishment and rehabilitative strategies differ will also be shown. I will also show whether or not there is specific data to support one particular approach over another. I will also give my opinion on whether I feel the approach is effective and if it is more cost effective than conventional incarceration. Competing Theories Of Corrections

Contributing to creating a political and media climate in which “get tough” policies were embraced by a broad spectrum of the public and political leadership was a variety of factors. They remained largely unchallenged, despite a wealth of research documenting the limited effect of such policies on crime. A broad range of choices now exist in many courtrooms, while sentencing options were once largely limited to incarceration and probation. (n. d. State Sentencing Reforms) Significant new sentencing options have become available over the past few decades, which are considered intermediate sanctions.

Intermediate sanctions employ sentencing alternatives that fall between outright imprisonment and simple probationary release back into the community. They are intended to provide prosecutors, judges, and corrections officials with sentencing options that permit them to apply appropriate punishments to convicted offenders while not being constrained by the traditional choice between prison and probation. These sanctions include split sentencing, shock probation or parole, shock incarceration, community service, intensive supervision, or home confinement and electronic monitoring.

Working to widen the use of sentencing alternatives, one group in particular is The Sentencing Project. This group provides technical assistance to public defenders, court officials, and other community organizations. They have contributed to the development of more than 100 locally based alternative sentencing service programs. These services work in conjunction with defense attorneys to develop written sentencing plans. (2005 Schmalleger) We all know that life is difficult and can be unfair, but according to Dr.

Viktor Frank (1997) that the meaning of life is not what happens to us but it is what we do with that which happens to us. Robert Martinson’s credo of “nothing works” has caused justice scholars and policy makers to debate the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation. Programs that are based around surveillance and punishment are embraced and evident in today’s society. Even though at a later date Martinson admitted he was wrong, justice scholars and policy makers have continued to debate on his original credo.

However, it is evident that there are various successful programs that are available that will reduce future criminality not only from offenders but by potential offenders as well. (Shrum, H. , 2008) The competing theories of corrections that are prevalent in today’s system include Split Sentencing, Shock Probation, Shock Incarceration, Mixed Sentencing and Community Service, Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS), and Home Confinement and Electronic Monitoring. Split Sentencing involves a short time of imprisonment along with probation and serving time in a local jail. Schmalleger, 2005) Shock Probation involves the offender serving time in custody which is normally in prison but released through a court order to be put on probation. Probation has to be applied for by the offender though and is not a guarantee. (Schmalleger, 2005) Shock Incarceration provides regimented environments within a military style boot camp that involves hard labor, strict discipline, and physical training. This is normally for young and first time offenders and the duration is very short. All offenders who complete the program will be released under supervision. Schmalleger, 2005) Mixed Sentencing can involve weekends in jail and probation supervision. Offenders are required to get either treatment or be involved in community service programs while being on probation. (Schmalleger, 2005) Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS) involves five face- to- face contacts between the offender and supervisor during each business week, required employment, a weekly check of arrest records, mandatory curfew, routine alcohol and testing, automatic notification of probation officers if offender is arrested, and so many hours of community service. Schmalleger, 2005) And lastly we have Home Confinement also known as House Arrest which involves the offender being legally ordered to be confined to his own residence. Exceptions for leaving are employment, household essentials, and medical emergencies. (Schmalleger, 2005) The goals of these Punishment/Rehabilitative Strategies differ because if you take Rehabilitation programs for instance they have a significant impact on reducing recidivism rates. Most of them result in fewer broken families and overcrowding in prison is lessened, which means fewer prison facilities would need to be built.

Educational programs provide education that leads to obtaining GED’s or Vocational Training. All of the goals of Punishment and Rehabilitation differ because they require different steps to take in order to effectively help each offender according to his or her criminal act, past behavior problems, and family and community ties. However, the one thing that all of these goals have in common is that they are ultimately safer for communities. (Stevens, D. , 2008) One non-traditional correctional approach is House Arrest also known as Electronic Monitoring. This is a home confinement program among the federal court system.

Home Incarceration, Home Detention, and or Curfew are the three components or levels of restriction the federal court system has. A curfew will require offenders to remain in home every single day during certain hours of the day where Home Detention requires offenders to remain at home at all times with the exception of preapproved and scheduled absences. The advantages of these are that they help to reduce prison populations and they are cost efficient, brings the offender closer to family life, and provides them the opportunity to obtain a work environment.

When reviewing costs, you can see that House Arrest costs approximately $1,130 per year per supervised probationer. Incarceration costs run around $18,100 per year per inmate. (Stevens, D. 2008) I feel this approach is effective when it comes to House Arrest because it lowers costs, lessens prison overcrowding and construction, and can benefit people who would specifically benefit from being on house arrest. When it comes to Incarceration, there are actually people who do need to be incarcerated because they just can’t seem to be4 punished properly through alternative programs and do not want to help themselves.

Having a curfew is also an effective approach because it puts rules and organizational means on offenders where they have the right to choose to be responsible or not. These approaches are indeed more cost effective than convential incarceration because they require less money to correct offenders and prevent future criminal activity. It costs thousands of dollars to incarcerate an offender and even though there are some offenders that are bound for prison life, there are others who are non-violent that want help in other ways and do not want to face prison sentencing.

It is still expensive to have an offender under House arrest, but not nearly as expensive as it is to have them incarcerated. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced on 6/2/2002 that sixty-seven percent of former inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at least one serious new crime within the following three years. Those with the highest rearrest rates were those who had been incarcerated for stealing motor vehicles (79%), possessing or selling stolen property (77%),larceny (75%), burglary (74%), robbery (70%) or those using, possessing or trafficking in illegal weapons (70%). 2002 BJS) Recidivism is readily reducible and even more so with broader use of rehabilitation programs such as substance abuse treatment centers, academic and vocational education, immediate sanctions, post-secondary education, and other alternatives to incarceration. (Shrum, H. , 2004) Sometimes recidivism is as low as 5-15% because these programs work so well. (Manitonquat, 1996) Debates, criticism, warehousing of human beings who are convicted of crimes, it’s all part of a revolving door among criminal activity, but there is no longer a theory when it comes to Correctional Theory.

There are too many debatable arguments, and criticisms that will show it’s better to have alternative punishments and rehabilitations for offenders rather than strictly incarcerating them. In the words of Nietzsche: “When we treat a man as he is, he only becomes worse. But, when we treat a man as he can be, he will be that which he can be. ” These are some good words to go by when it comes to prevention alternatives to incarceration, words that will be emphasized in a much broader and greater degree in the future. (Stevens,D. , 2008) References Schmalleger, F. 2005) Criminal Justice Today Shrum, Harvey (2008) No Longer Theory: Correctional Practices That Work. Journal of Correctional Education Stevens, D. , (2008) Identifying Competing Theories of Corrections Prevalent in Today’s Justice System Manitonquat (1996) Ending Violent Crime A Vision of a Society Free of Violence Bureau of Justice Statistics press release (6/2/2002) (2002,10) Federal Sentencing Reporter, Retrieved from State Sentencing Reforms: Is the “Get Tough” era coming to a close? Web site:http://www. sentencingproject. org/pdfs/mauer-statesentreform. pdf#search=alternative%20t


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