Philosophy of Community Corrections
Community correction is an overall term that envelops everything from the diversion of pretrial to intermediate punishments. The definition also includes any, non-restrictive, but supervised means of dealing with the offenders who are not yet convicted or are facing conviction. Parole and probation are two of the most used forms of community corrections; this generally includes electronic monitoring, community service, work release, curfews, alcohol/drug checks, halfway houses, home confinement, restorative justice center, and meditation. This still includes any reporting programs or offender monitoring programs that walk the line between safety and trust. Through this oversight, it is easy to define the community correction philosophy as sanctions and programs imposed by the court that let the offenders serve their jail term within the community and not in the jail or prison environment.
Community Corrections Issues
Jurisdiction has devised many ways of dealing with community corrections issues. However, four similarities are often found in all the programs. Emphasis on residential stability refers to the place the offender is located or kept also it can be a place that looks like a home, their home, or a group home. This applies to the philosophy of reintegration, which helps in maintaining residential ties to the community or family. Another similarity is the voluntary or mandatory provision of professional services of psychological or medical nature. This reflects on the philosophy of rehabilitation, which stresses trust especially in cases where the offered services are voluntary. Besides, another similarity is the accountability of both the supervisor and offenders part, this needs a set system put in place to measure the progress of the offender and still ease the reporting of the supervisor to the relevant authorities. Lastly, it is the economic efficiency function, which influences not only the way the offenders find, maintain, or pursues their education or jobs, but also how they pay some or all the cost for them. Through these, effective ways community correction helps to keep the cost of criminal justice down, eases the congestion problem in the prisons, and gives a new insight into the process of criminal justice and community correction (Braithwaite & Pettit, 1990).
The ideal philosophy according to many scholars is the reintegration philosophy. Another name for it is restorative justice, which refers to a broader perspective of the philosophy since it enhances a complete life change. Through this philosophy, ex-offenders can only rejoin the community once they recognize the harm and extent of injustice they have caused others. Therefore, restorative justice is generally earning redemption through repairing the former injustices. The main aim of reintegration is not only to prepare the community to accept the ex-offenders and prepare the offenders to re-enter the community. This philosophy means full inclusion in the community in a wider moral aspect, which has the following stands that criminal justice and philosophical scholars critic and look at community correction especially parole and probation. The stands include pride, which shows the recognition of skills, or talents a person has and how it can contribute to the people or community. Approval of the person for their basic human potential is more important than what he or she did before (Murphy, 2005).
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Statistics indicate probation as the most popular method in criminal justice. Almost 4 million people are on probation daily due to cases that range from moderate felonies to minor offenses. It is usually straight probation with the least monthly contact, in cases where the caseloads are frequent or low. In the U.S., there are over 2,000 community correction programs and the majority of them are state-funded programs. Combined parole and probation agencies extend to over 30 states. In these agencies a there is a list of employees who are willing to employ their ex-offenders. A person who supervises the offenders on parole is called a P.O and the person on parole is their Client. According to the system, parolees are under the parole board jurisdiction and the probationer is still under the jurisdiction of their first sentencing judge. Through the probation officers' background check on the offender, they can become eligible for probation even before original sentencing. This is known as pre-sentencing investigation and it helps judges.
Most agencies use another method known as need and risk assessment, which balances the offender’s potential for danger to the community with his rehabilitative possibilities. Most of the sizes that P.Os handle differ mostly due to their location. In urban locations, a P.O can handle up to 400 clients while in rural a typical caseload is 25 clients. In jurisdictions that have overload cases, they devise alternative probation methods like postcard mail-in programs, drive-up windows, and digital palm scanning devices set in specific central locations. Due to these innovative methods probation programs are nowadays called ‘’see em’ and pee em’’ programs, even with these there are still some places that require frequent home visits or face-to-face checks that are often random. Although agency policies vary, P.Os have the same arresting power as a police officers and they can choose to carry guns at their own discretion (Maruna, 2001).
Also, there are other forms of programs that include work release known by many names like day pass, temporary release, day pass, or education and work furlough. These programs have many advantages to the offenders like in rare cases conjugal visits. Research states that the day release programs of educational purpose have shown positive effects, and they have helped to boost their self-esteem. Home confinement or house arrest through electronic monitoring, for example, wrist bracelets or ankle bracelets that emit telemetry signal halfway houses offer poorer clients temporary residential basic needs like shelter or food. Community residential centers or day reporting centers are houses in residential neighborhoods that act as offices for the clients to be reporting daily at specified hours and they are provided with employment counseling and other activities. Private programs are also available and studies have shown that these firms have lower recidivism of clients compared to public facilities. Their success is equated to their screening of candidates, which is also known as cherry-picking or creaming (Sieh, 2008).
Many issues affect the clients in the probation program. According to the survey, only 62 percent of all the clients have ever finished the probationary period successfully. Two-thirds of the clients within 3 years of completing their sentence often commit new crimes. Even while under probation, 90 percent of the ex-probationers are responsible for countless violent crimes and death in many states. 90 percent of the probationers are supposed to pay restitution fees or are under court orders to get drug treatment, but only 50 percent of them ever follow these court orders. Two percent of the 300,000 probationers officially are enlisted as absconders meaning they are only hiding in public view; they are out there ignoring the system and flaunting the laws. Besides, less than 40 percent ever receive any kind of effective drug treatment while they are serving their sentence.
Technical violation and new offense are the two ways of violating parole or probation statistics have shown that these compromises have an equal percentage of 50 each. A technical violation is the general misbehavior of a client under supervision that is not entirely a crime and there are no arrests necessary. Instant offenses or new offenses are not related to the initial offenses that are subject to arrest and new persecution. Another disadvantage to the completion of the parole system according to the clients is that the conditions are so stringent that the offenders chose to go to prison than completing the program and this is a major setback on the community correction policy (Kett, 2007).