Overcrowding prisons has been an rising issue in American society. It is reported in the Bureau of Justice Statistics Sourcebook that as of last year, the US prison population has risen to a little over 2 million. In addition, it costs $25,000 a year to house a single prisoner. To avoid the further congestion within the penal system, alternatives have been presented in an effort control this matter. The three very leading alternatives in use are probation, boot camps, and house arrest.
The question of their effectiveness and impact on society has been a source of controversy as of late. Young offenders (up until about the ages of 18), have recently had the alternative of boot camps as opposed to jail time. Correctional facilities referred to as boot camps (based on military boot camps) arose in 1983 and were first developed in Oklahoma and Georgia. In essence, boot camps basically are rigorous ways to dissuade offenders from entering society as criminals by imposing rehabilitation and discipline.
This is enforced with education (as well as job training), health care, community service, and physical training. Interestingly enough, there is a lot of variation in the types of boot camp, as some include psychological therapy, drug treatment, and the traditional military routine. Offenders are usually an option of 220 days in a traditional facility or the 90-day boot camp period and the choice is solely left to the offender. Furthermore, it is only recommended for those not guilty of crimes of a serious mature (murder, rape, etc. ).
A typical day in a boot camp consists of a 16 hour day (typically lasting form 5:30am to 9:30pm) to provide a sense of structure in the lives of the young men. Boot camp has very positive aspects, providing a cheaper alternative to prison (the average cost for an attendant of a boot camp being between $80-$120 a day, due to it being a much shorter amount of time). It provides structure for those who have lived in its absence and promises to instill values, self-confidence, knowledge, morals, and the ability to conform to societal rules.
The physical limitations provide time to reflect on past mistakes and hopefully progress. There are also negative aspects to boot camps. Additional money in addition to the funds for traditional incarceration is a factor for many critics of this alternative. It is also said by many to be hindrance. In fact, in the state of Georgia boot camps are being wiped out. Although it is less expensive, to some it is not worth the price of admission, as the phrase goes. Money is a issue, but the most important of all concerns is recidivism.
Recidivism means a lapse into a previous pattern of behavior, referring to criminal behavior in this case. Its rate in the boot camp system is in 1999 was 63 to 75 percent. In many people's eyes, this means that it isn't very effective and consequently, boot camp has been reduced in states like Maryland (even dropped in Colorado and North Dakota). However, when we take into account the short length of the time that this program has been in place, it is too soon to determine long term impact since no long-term analysis has been completed as of yet. Parole is another popular alternative to prison.
In 1899 in Senate Bill 108, Chapter XXVI, the first parole law was written. This enabled criminals that served 1 year of a sentence and had no previous convictions to be free. From there, there has been an evolution of these rules and regulations regarding this concept of probation. In modern terms, the probation procedure begins with what is called a "pre-sentence investigation". This occurs after the guilt of an offender is recognized and doesn't include those that have been found guilty of a crime of a more serious nature (murder, robbery, and previous felonies).
After the decision of the court for probation, there is a strict monitoring of the offender by a parole officer (known as the P. O. ). This is an extremely common alternative to incarceration. If probation is violated it is brought back to a court and in many cases, it is withdrawn. Statistic show that 70 to 80 percent of people complete the probationary period and are released. The question of true reform is always an issue. Some probationists finish the period only to return to the life of crime they once lead.
Also, there is a great amount of pressure which creates a strain on the offender. Individuals on parole must be more cautious than any other normal citizen, and some cannot stay within the guidelines set by the parole system. Yet another alternative to incarceration is house arrest. This is when the offender is restrained by electric monitoring if approved by a parole or probation officer. Electronic monitoring consists of two devices, the "receiving" device which works through a phone line and makes random phone calls to the offender to check his alcohol level and voice response.
Also, a photographic image is recorded to acknowledge the offender's attendance. To make sure the prisoner's whereabouts are always known, a second tracking device is put on the ankle to notify the monitoring facility when he leaves his home. Offenders participating in this program must provide a written schedule of movements in advance, since as they are allowed under certain circumstances to leave the house for employment, errands, etc. If employed, there is close monitoring of the workplace and contact with the employer.
Should the offender be absent when the automated service calls for him, a four-hour process begins. A hectic search through available numbers is executed and if the individual is not found within that amount of time, he is considered absent without leave or AWOL. Once this occurs, a warrant report is filed through the authorities and will result in his eventual arrest. Technically speaking this provides discipline, structure, and responsibility to an offender. He is responsible for himself in regards to following the rules. A urine sample is taken quite frequently to monitor his health.
On the contrary, there is a downside to this issue. Not only does the offender have to pay for the random drug tests, but also there is a daily $12 payment for a daily monitoring fee. Also there lies the issue of money for the unit itself, which is very expensive. The method I felt was the most effective alternative is boot camp. Although the statistics don't validate my reasoning, I believe that if there is a physical exertion, negativity is the last thing to cross the mind of a human being. All of these positive elements also presented such as responsibility for actions, good morals, etc.
can be instilled permanently if they are emphasized as equally as the physical aspect. Recidivism is recurring because the length of time in which the offenders stay in is too short, so there isn't time to establish the values and the foundation for success. Should the period of time increase, I think the statistics would be highly in favor of boot camp. As opposed to prison, there are very constructive activities to steer people away from "criminal mindedness. " The three alternatives discussed in this paper have not been in use for a long period of time, so it is too soon to accurately predict their success in the long term.