Jails, Prisons and Community Based Corrections

In this essay I will attempt to explain and discuss probation and how it compares to other forms of sentencing, the types of prison, the origins of rehabilitation in prisons, parole and how it differs from mandatory release and finally options of community corrections. Ending the essay will be a critique on the current rehabilitation options. The history of probation in the United States started in Boston in 1841. Starting with probation and how it differs to other forms of sentencing, probation is a prison sentence that is suspended but only on the condition that the offender follows certain rules and that he or she commit no more crimes.

Probation is sometimes frowned upon and it is said that probation is being “soft on crime”. Of course sometimes probation is a good alternative to incarceration, not all offenders can be sent to prison. Now with the population in prisons rising we are trying to find other solutions to diminish those numbers. Probation is a good way to do that. Since 1975 the number of offenders being supervised in the communities has gone from 1 million to almost 5. 1 million. In 1976 probation started to change drastically due to lack of adequate resources.

Therefore a total reevaluation of its practices and operations had to be made, from this came other forms of sentencing. So as a result of the lack of operations and practices found in earlier years many other forms of probation came into place like intensive probation supervision, house arrest, boot camps, and shock probation. These programs have been developed in order to enhance supervision, increase its effectiveness and finally to limit the offenders freedom. Probation today is a federal, state, and local activity in the United States that is administered by over two thousand separate agencies.

Probation is a way that is different from being incarcerated. From this came intermediate sanctions as explained before boot camps and house arrest are part of this. Intermediate sanctions are midway dispositions that fall between probation and imprisonment which is another way to cut expenses but also have offenders close as if they were imprisoned with the probation officer monitoring its client and making sure they follow the rules in order to keep being on probation and not in jail.

Offenders on probation have to follow certain rules in order to stay on probation, the most important thing to do while on probation is not to do any more crimes. When an offender Paroles it means that correctional authorities and board member actually believe that the offender is ready or thought they improved their lives enough that they earned the right to be released. However offenders have to show that they have a reentry plan and that they know how they are going to stay out of trouble. Mandatory release on the other hand is different.

Offenders released mandatory is pretty self explanatory, they are released because they did their time. However it is sometimes dangerous for an inmate to be released this way because he or she may not have a plan for when they get out and may come in contact with the same type of crimes they committed to begin with, therefore ending back in the system. Half way houses is an alternate option for corrections. These houses provide supervision while living in the community which is a great alternative to prison, for offenders at least. These houses provide great supervision, structure, accountability, and aid in the community supervision of probationers who require more than standard probation in response to their risk of reoffending and program needs”( Richard P. Seiter 2011). Therefore Intermediate sanctions are a great alternative to either probation or incarceration because it is more cost effective and can match the offender with the crime and properly seek aid for that particular person which in some cases would have been better than to just simply throw him or her in prison.

By doing this properly it can lead to a reduction in recidivism. The types of prisons in the U. S are Minimum security, Close security, Maximum security, Supermax security, and Federal. Prisoners in minimum security pose little threat to the public and are usually non violent and they live in less secure dormitories. Close security inmates are monitored a lot from a remote controlled station. Maximum security inmates have their own cells and are confined usually 23 hours a day in most prisons.

Supermax inmates is where they have the highest level of security which houses the most angerous criminals ever, killers, murderous and such. Federal Prison inmates are those who have violated federal laws. Rehabilitation in prisons is defined as “an internal change that results in a cessation of the targeted negative behavior” (Joycelyn M. Pollock, Prisons today and tomorrow). Most inmates face some serious issues some that not even all the programs and rehabilitation can do something to help. Some of these inmates have history of long criminal involvement, murders, heavy substance abusers, are gang members, and have very few marketable skills.

Most states have declined the help for mentally ill inmates, recent research says that at least 1 out of 5 inmates have declared some sort of mental illness. Programs that are effective to mentally ill or substance abusers are rehabilitation programs that focus on reentry like work and industry programs, substance abuse, counseling, sex offender programs. Being released to a half way house however is only available to a certain amount of inmates mostly due to their risk factor.

Rehabilitation is a key the department of corrections may want to have because it will help not all but most inmates who may be made a mistake and want to reestablish them in civilian life, not only that but keep the amount of inmates in prisons from rising and overcrowding the system. These alternate solutions are out there and some are more cost effective than to just simply lock someone up. It is expensive to house inmates in prison more so than probation. In closing I personally believe that probation is a good way to monitor first time offenders and give them the opportunity of reentering the community a changed person.

Yes I understand the saying “do the crime do the time” but as a strong believer in the law I believe that just because a man has broken the law it does not define who that person is unless that person is set on doing more crime then by all means lock that person in jail and give the help required it is up to him or her as an individual to do the right thing. However there are circumstances that maybe the law cannot take into consideration say for lack of evidence but anyways the law is the law and if you break it you pay for it. All I’m saying is that depending on the crime, some people deserve a chance to do right by it.