Community Justice

When we hear the word corrections, most of us tend to think of a jail or prison. It is popularly believed that the function of corrections is merely to lock criminals up. Most of us don’t associate corrections with the community. The objective of my essay is to show the correlation between traditional correctional functions and community justice. According to an article, Community Justice Program Division, community justice begins with the premise that the community is the ultimate customer of the community corrections system.

Whereas the traditional justice system focuses on the offender, community justice shifts the focus to the safety and well-being of the community. This involves balancing long-term and short-term intervention strategies, focusing on prevention and involving citizens in the justice process. Community justice actively involves community members in making decisions and carrying out the plans for resolving issues and restoring the community, including working with individual crime victims and offenders.

Community members are also involved to prevent and control crime, improve neighborhoods, and strengthen the bonds among community members, which contribute to community safety. How community justice changes the traditional correctional functions? As I’ve learned in previous chapters and during one of my essays, community justice is a type of reform. One of its focus’s is to try and prevent crime. It also embraces the nonpolice functions of adjudication, sanctioning, and correcting (Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). Traditional correctional functions include reforms for offenders such as parole and probation.

The ideals of community justice can operate within traditional correctional functions, but they change the look of those ways of doing business. There are two main locations for corrections: the community and the institution. For each of these locations, traditional corrections have two types of functions: regarding the community, there are probation and parole (re-entry); regarding institutions, there are jails and prisons.

Let’s look more closely at the traditional correctional function of probation: What is probation? According to, What is Probation? probation is a sentence ordered by a judge, usually instead of, but sometimes in addition to, serving time in jail. It allows the convicted person to live in the community for a specified period of time, sometimes under the supervision of a probation officer. In many ways probation is the correctional function ideally suited to incorporate the values of community justice. Probation (along with parole) involves community supervision, meaning that its operations occur in the community, and its clients reside in the community. Despite probation being relevant to the community, the offender on probation is not actually in the community.

Most probation offices are located downtown across from some government office, such as a courthouse. This form of practice is known as “Fortress Probation” (Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). Critics of this practice argue that the offender can’t engage in the kinds of community services that are needed to support adjustment to the community. Under a community justice model, probation moves out of the office and into community branch offices opened up in the neighborhoods where the majority of clients live, and probation officers operate from these neighborhood offices.

What are the advantages of an offender on probation in the community? * Offenders often succeed or fail largely on the basis of the nature of informal social controls in their lives, and that probation can work to strengthen and augment those informal social controls. * It builds ties to various community organizations, such as neighborhood councils, social clubs, and churches, and it relies upon those various organizations to develop a better relevance to residents who are under criminal justice authority.

It establishes support system in the community for probationers. * It also provides restitution to the victim of the offender’s crime. In doing that it ensures that restitution go a long way to increasing community willingness to participate in this form of probation. So now that we’ve looked at one of the main locations for traditional corrections (the community), we’re going to look at the other main location, institutions. The two types of institutions are jails and prisons.

Most jails are community based in that they operate within the confines of a particular community, but turning jail into a community justice correctional operation is not a simple matter (Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). Jails are very important to the community. There are almost 10 million admissions to jails each year, and a similar number of releases (US Department of Justice 1995). If the processes of removal and return are important to community life, then jails are a major part of those processes.

There are three principles that seem important to the application of community justice to the jail: informal social controls, transition planning, and restoration/restitution. Informal social control, or the reactions of individuals and groups that bring about conformity to norms and laws, includes peer and community pressure, bystander intervention in a crime, and collective responses such as citizen patrol groups. The agents of the criminal justice system exercise more control when informal social control is weaker.

Jail, no matter how short the stay, represents a disruption in the offender’s life, and the disruption can imperil the ties to informal social controls (family and others) that will prove so important after the offender leaves jail. A community justice orientation to a jail will try to minimize these losses (Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). Transitioning planning, under community justice, ensures that when an offender is carefully factored into the way the release is conducted, and the idea is to use release as the first positive step in the overall adjustment to the community.

When it comes to restoration and restitution, community justice jail finds ways to make restitution possible: inmates are allowed to work for income that partly goes to a victim’s fund, trustee programs are created that allow the offender to perform restorative services in the community, and inmate programs that benefit the community are encouraged(Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). The other type of institution is prison. Of all the correctional functions, the prison is the most removed from a community justice orientation.

Yet prisons are an important part of community justice, even though they seem to be remote from community life (Clear, Hamilton, Cadora, 2011). One of the reasons is because inmates come from communities. The point of any community justice initiative in prison is to reduce the isolation of prisons from community life. In conclusion, community justice plays a big part in the way the traditional correctional facilities function. It is evident that whether in prison or on parole, offenders will always have ties with the community.