Criminal Rehabilitation and Alternatives to Incarceration

Criminal Rehabilitation and Alternatives to Incarceration Introduction Incarceration as the main method of dealing with criminals in the United States and around the world has received a lot of criticism. The government is spending a lot of resources in the maintenance of large correctional facilities which are not effective. There are a very large number of prisoners being sent to prison today which is an economic burden to the government. Instead of the correctional facilities releasing back criminals who have been rehabilitated, the facilities are releasing even more dangerous criminals after years of incarceration.

This creates a need for criminologists and other sociologists to develop effective means of deterring criminals from committing offences again other than the ineffective incarceration (James, pp 6). Theory In the last three decades, the rate of crime has increased tremendously. This has come with a lot of challenges that face the criminal justice system and sociologists as they try to explain and deal with the worrying trend. The increased rate of crime is partly as a result of the changing society and the challenges faced by individuals in the modern world among other factors.

The increase in the rate of crime has resulted into a high number of individuals being sent to prison in the United States (Harley, pp 45). The number of individual with special needs being sent to prisons has also increased at an alarming rate. This includes the juvenile offender and mentally ill individuals. The number of offenders under parole and probation has also increased. This has resulted into increased stress on the available correctional facilities and personnel leading to ineffectiveness.

This has been followed by a high number of offenders who are not acceptable back into the society being released by the facilities (Curry, Posluszny and Kraska, pp 4). Incorporation of better rehabilitation programs as an alternative to the incarceration of the offender is long over due. This is more so for the cases involving offenders with special needs such as juvenile offenders and mentally ill individuals. Incarceration of juvenile offenders without proper rehabilitation services may have adverse effect on the development of the juveniles.

Negative impacts of such interruptions in cognitive development have resulted into criminal lives of majority of juveniles who have ever been incarcerated. Drug addicts, mentally and physically disabled offenders need special rehabilitation services as an alternative to incarceration. Majority of the inmates have no vocational skills, low level of education and are in most cases unemployed. Rehabilitation of such offenders where they can be given vocation training rather than incarceration will make them more productive and deter them from committing crimes in the future.

Media and criminal rehabilitation Media has developed to a major aspect of the modern society. Media serves as a source of information both constructive and destructive. Media has also been essential in highlighting issues that affect the society. The media has a positive and negative impact on the criminal judicial systems. Mass media such as television, movies and films, newspapers, radio, magazines and the internet has a big influence on the lives of the people. They have been blamed for causing the increased rate of crimes especially among the children.

The media has been blamed of displaying violence as desirable (Howitt, pp 128). Most of the movies produced today have some element of violence. This affects the cognitive development of children who are becoming more violent and aggressive (Marsh, Ian and Gaynor, pp 68). The media has also been used constructively in the rehabilitation of offenders. By highlighting issues that affects the criminal judicial systems such as the increased rates of recidivism, the media has impacted positively on the criminal judicial system.

The media has criticized uncalled for incarceration of offenders or inadequate rehabilitation programs which has forced the criminal judicial systems to take corrective actions. Current local programs on criminal rehabilitation The criminal judicial system in the United States is ineffective in dealing with the modern challenges of law enforcement. This is due to its inability to rehabilitate the criminals leaving the correctional facilities. More criminal elements are reentering the society after long incarceration periods in the correctional facilities. The rate of incarceration in the United States is the highest in the world.

The more worrying fact is that the criminal justice system in the United States has the highest rate of recidivism which has reached unacceptable rates. It is estimated that every neighborhood and almost every household in many parts of the United States has had an individual served a prison sentence at least once in their lifetime. This is because the systems have not embraced rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration of offenders. Most of the offenders in the American correction facilities are unlikely to change due to the conditions they are exposed to and lack of support services.

Despite these failures, there are several alternatives to incarceration of offenders. The United States criminal justice systems provide alternative correctional programs depending on the magnitude of the offence committed and the circumstances under which the offense was committed. One of these alternatives is the offender being put under a rehabilitation program. This is one of the basic goals of the juvenile judicial system. The juvenile judicial systems have been introduced at the states level and the federal level with the basic objective of rehabilitating the juvenile offender rather than punishment.

The rehabilitation services have also targeted minor offences committed under non violent circumstances. Offenders who commit crimes as a result of substance use are also subjected to rehabilitation programs. Attorneys have argued in many occasions, that persons with chemical dependence commit crimes to fund their habits which means incarcerating them will have no help. Instead, if the individual is rehabilitated to free him from the drug dependence, the likelihood of recidivism is reduced. Other alternatives that are provided by the law include probation which is a common punishment for minor offenders.

The offender under probation is not sent to prison but is put under observation of a probation officer. The offender is expected to refrain from any offence, drug use and is expected to report to the probation officer occasionally. The offender may also be put under work crew which involve community work, electronic monitoring for non violent offenses. Electronic monitoring has been a common method used in monitoring of juvenile offenders and drug abusers. The offender is monitored using electronic gargets such as bracelets which may employ advanced technology such as GPS and alcohol detection.

Minor offenders can also be put under home arrest where he or she is detained at his or her residence with authorized outings only. Other alternatives include educational sentencing where the offender is trained on self control. These alternatives are aimed at helping the offender shed off the bad habits and eventually become a better member of the society. Global programs In the global scene, there are various agencies and programs that are aimed at providing an alternative to incarceration. For many years, criminal justice systems have combined different element in dealing with offenders.

There are some elements of judicial systems that are common in many of the countries in the world. The main objectives of criminal sentencing have always been retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence and incapacitation of the offenders. However, the most common sentence in many countries is the incarceration which principle purpose is to incapacitate the offender from committing additional crime (Chatturvedi, pp 4). Retribution is the traditional role of the criminal judicial system and is still perceived by many people as the main aim of sentencing.

Retribution is the understanding that the criminal system is expected to punish the offender as revenge on behalf of the victim. Deterrence is on the other hand any attempt by the criminal judicial system to deter the individual from committing a crime in the future. By sentencing offenders, the court deters potential criminals from committing similar crimes in the future. The fear associated with prison life is one of the key reasons why people do not commit crimes readily. The consequences of committing a crime deter persons from committing crimes (Pallone, pp 103). Sentencing may also be aimed at incapacitation of the offender.

This is a common practice when dealing with dangerous criminals or where the criminal is unable to shed off the criminal behaviors. Incapacitation is a situation where the offender is locked in and put under supervision thereby removing the opportunity of committing the crime. Incapacitation may involve capital punishment or life imprisonment where the opportunity of committing the crime is ultimately removed. There have been arguments among criminologists on whether the sentencing of majority of offenders is aimed at incapacitation of the individual where many have been opposed to the idea.

However, the basic role of criminal judicial systems has been rehabilitation of the offender. Though sentencing may deter or incapacitate the offender, the main aim should be correcting the offender. It is the aim of many correctional facilities in the world to release better individuals back to the society. However, there are many challenges that are faced by correctional agencies and security agencies all over the world as they try to use alternative correctional methods other than incarceration. These include the ability to determine the risk associated with an offender before considering alternatives to incarceration.

Recommendation The main aim of any criminal judicial system should be to make the offender a better member of the society no matter what the crime the individual has committed. Research indicates that people commit crimes because of various reasons which must be addressed by the criminal judicial systems. The presence of laws in the country and the consequences associated with committing crimes are sufficient enough to deter people from committing crimes. Despite these laws, people have continuously committed crimes.

Moreover the rate of recidivism has increased tremendously despite the stiff penalties. Law enforcement agencies and legislators need to consider this trend carefully if an amicable solution to the problem has to be solved. Otherwise, the government will continue spending more money in the maintenance of incarceration centers as the crime rate continues to increase. Research has indicated that incarcerated individuals are maladjusted individuals in the society. The life in prison does not instill discipline among the inmates nor does it solve the problems in their lives.

Most of the inmates suffer from broken families, rejection by the society and social stigma once they are released from prison which may have negative effect on their lives. The likelihood of such individuals going back to criminal life and going back to prison is very high. However, this can be avoided by the criminal judicial systems adopting other methods of deterrence, retribution, incapacitation and rehabilitation of offenders other than sending them to prison. There are cases where other methods of dealing with criminals are more effective as compared to incarceration.

It is indisputable that in cases where individuals pose a threat to the society, incarceration is unavoidable. However, personal support services need to be provided to the offenders if the incarceration process will have positive impacts on the offender (Blanc, pp 8). In cases where the offenders are involved in minor crimes, the offender is juvenile or in conditions that make him or her more vulnerable, incarceration should not be the first option. Rather, the criminal justice system should try other alternatives which in this case are more effective.

This will give favorable conditions for the cognitive development for juvenile offenders and special services for offenders with special needs. The offender will also be saved from the negative effect of being incarcerated such as family breakdown, social stigma and rejection. The offender will have a normal life while at the same time be rehabilitated. Alternative programs always aim at solving the problems faced by the offender which makes them more likely to commit crimes. It also saves on the government spending in maintaining large number of prisoners.

Alternative programs require more trained and skilled probation and parole officers. Work Cited Blanc, James Le. “Rehabilitation Programs Will Help Offenders Change-And Enhance Public Safety. ” Corrections Today. Volume: 70. Issue: 5. (2008) pp 8 Chatturvedi, J. C. Rehabilitation of Offenders and Role of Counseling, ISBN 8182053528, Gyan Books, (2006). Curry, K. L. , Posluszny, M. P. , and Kraska, S. L. “Training criminal justice personnel to recognize offenders with disabilities. ” OSERS News in Print, 5(3), (1993). 4-8. Harley, Debra A. “Vocational Rehabilitation Services for an Offender Population.

” The Journal of Rehabilitation. Volume: 62. Issue: 2. Publication Year: 1996. Pp: 45 Howitt, Dennis. Crime, the media, and the law, ISBN 0471969052, Wiley, (1998). James, A. Gondles Jr. “Alternatives to Incarceration Mentality Is Emerging. ” Corrections Today. Volume: 64. Issue: 7. (2002), pp 6 Marsh, Ian and Gaynor, Melville. Crime, Justice and the Media, ISBN 041544490X, Taylor & Francis, (2009) Pallone, Nathaniel J. Treating substance abusers in correctional contexts: new understandings, new modalities, ISBN 0789022788, Routledge, 2004