This is a nine member board appointed by the governor of the state of Texas to oversee a number of correctional facilities. The board is entrusted with the supervision of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) a department that rehabilitates, supervises, confines and reintegrates the state felonies. The department is comprised of all prisons, remand and approved schools for younger offenders (Leebaw, 2003).
The Texas Board of Criminal Justice steers the operations of the department and makes the important day to day decisions necessary for the operations of the department and the entire correctional facilities in the state by extension. The nine board members have a tenure life of six years a period within which they appoint directors of the department, set rules and formulate relevant policies necessary for the successful operation of the department.
The board members operate democratically and reach most of their operational decisions via a secret vote. Currently, one Oliver J Bell a former army officer and a graduate of the United States of America military school chairs the board. He was first elected the chairperson of the board in 2004 and later was reelected in 2009. He thus is in his third year in office in his second time. Since his appointment to the helm of the board, Bell has executed a number of changes through the inception of policies that he considered effective.
He ordered a revision of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional system making Texas one of the states in the country with the most effective and transformative correctional facilities. further heads the health department within the board and is responsible for the introduction of a number of health policies that benefit not only the felons but the society too. The correctional society is comprised of the criminals, the staff of the correctional facilities and the rest of the society extending the parameters of the facilities (Weitekamp, 1993).
An effective health policy that covers the interests of any of these parties influences the rest; this understanding led him to introduce effective health policies that do not only safeguard the health of the inmates but also the health of the prison officers and the rest of the society. Other members of the board include Tom Melcher who is the vice chairperson and chairs the rehabilitation and reentry program committee. The committee oversees the seamless return of convicts into the society.
Leopoldo Vasquez is the secretary to the board and chairs the audit review committee; the committee ensures accountability and effective utilization of the department’s resources. The other five members of the board are Eric Gambrel a resident of Highland park, Texas, Judge Lawrence Gist, a resident of Beaumont, Texas, Janice Harris from Arlington Texas, Carmen Villanueva of Palm Hurst, Texas, Mr. Terrell McCombs a resident of San Antonio, Texas and David Nelson from Lubbock, Texas. All the members of the board are residents of the state of Texas and are professionals in fields related to human management.
While the governor appoints these members of the board into office, his decision is influenced by a number of factors key among which is the places of residence of his appointees. The nine members are drawn from different places within the state thus giving the notion of balance and equity among the regions and counties of the state. Additionally, the governor considers gender and other forms of societal stratification to come up with a board that has a national outlook. Evaluation of a corrections policy.
Restorative justice, also reparative justice is arguably the most effective corrections policy in the Texan correctional facilities. The policy revolves around the understanding of “harm repair”. This dictates that the offenders take responsibility of their offenses and make amends with the rest society. Instead of demonizing and punishing offenders, the policy demands the inclusion of the entire society in the correction process to aid the process of coming up with reformed individuals acceptable in the society once again.
This type of correction is highly interactive and requires the direct participation of the victims, the offenders and the state officers. In determining fault, the victims give their testimony of how the crime occurred and affected them. They give evidence of the extent of the crime and further give an estimation of the loss suffered. This may be monetary or psychological depending on the type of the offense. This process takes place after the court process while the offenders are serving their jail terms. This implies that at this stage, the offender is positively identified.
After his account, the offenders explain the situations according to their understanding and give the reasons that led to them committing the crimes. They explain how the proceeding affected their lives and the possible lessons they learnt from the process. The offenders thereafter get an opportunity to apologize to the offended and take responsibility for their actions. Responsibility includes settling any financial loss incurred by the victims, community service and education to prevent recidivism, which may include a restrain of the offenders’ movement and a limitation to their liberties.
This policy does not only punish wrongdoing but also educates the parties involved in a tussle on the importance of a peaceful resolution of disputes and accountability of individual actions. By merely locking out the offenders from the society, the society does not only incur the inmates’ upkeep costs but also miss an opportunity to healing and learn. When an offender is locked away from the society for the duration, such a person becomes a liability to the state. He or she no longer works but is fed, clothed and washed by the few tax payers.
Furthermore, petty offenders unnecessarily fill up space in these institutions resulting in congestion thus increasing risks to the inmates should a disease breakout. Additionally, when such people are locked out, they cut links with the society. Their interaction skills deteriorate and the society loses an opportunity to analyze the behavior patterns associated with any offense. This helps predict future crimes and in aping out effective plans of arrest. This policy of rehabilitation understands these and seeks to develop mechanisms in which everyone benefits.
The victims receive direct monetary compensations from the offender who learns from the rest of the society thus earning acceptance back into the society. Reentry into the society is not easy and requires great support from the people. However, most people show no trust for a convicted robber and murderers. The process requires extensive consultations from all the stakeholders and a higher level of interactivity among participants. This policy ensures this by intensifying interactivity between the rest of the society, the offenders and the correctional officers.
In such a setting, the offenders do not lose touch with the societal norms thereby making their reentry into the society a seamless process. Besides its usefulness in settling civil cases both in and out of courtrooms, restorative justices are further useful in the prisons in rehabilitating prisoners. The program is applicable through constant prisoner interactivity with the community. In such programs, prisoners learn of the changes in the society and keep abreast with the societal norms. The prisoners are further put under a strict behavior regimen that keeps them aligned to the society from where they came.
The Texas Board of Criminal Justice stresses the importance of having stronger restorative justice values than merely integrating the participants. Without effective values to the programs, the inmates may take the opportunity presented by the studies to perpetrate more harm to the society. The board ensures this by appointing effective human resource managers to head the correctional facilities. These managers busy themselves with restoring the incarcerated as functional members of the society by reinstating the values of the society in them.
This extensive rehabilitation program makes the inmates realize their mistakes and appreciate the punishments vested upon them after which they rectify their ways (Zehr, 2002). Impacts of the restorative justice The program does not demonize prisoners but appreciates them as other legitimate members of the society. It simply makes the prisoners identify with their mistakes and rectify their ways. The program thus incorporates religious studies and professional rehabilitation and training coupled with psychological counseling.
This way, the prisoners come out of the holding facilities individuals who are mentally stable and capable of making an effective decision between right and wrong. Additionally, the prisoners come out of prison with technical skills to make them better members of the society and to keep them busy thus preventing the recurrence of crimes. By doing this, the program keeps the society a better safer place with reduced instances of crimes thereby offloading the holding facilities of prisoners resulting in an ideal and just society.
The attainment of an ideal just and fair society is not always realistic in most cases and the holding facilities may never completely empty in any society. However, the restorative justice provides a blueprint for the attainment of such a society. The program views the societal injustice mechanisms as a self-sustain vicious cycle sparked off and sustained by the negligence of the stakeholders. In societies where prisoners are denied basic human rights and abused end up with more activities that are criminal and the imbalance in the justice system is rife (Folger,1996).
The restorative justice intercepts the vicious cycle at the correctional facilities. This follows the understanding that a vicious cycle is stoppable at any point in the cycle. The program therefore imparts knowledge into the prisoners, makes them appreciate and uphold peace in the society and further imparts in them a sense of self-worth by equipping them with survival technical skills. Once out of the prisons, these former prisoners busy themselves in constructive work and are of stable minds capable of making ethically sound and moral decisions.
They thus appreciate peace and uphold the societal norms. Furthermore, such people have an effective understanding of the societal norms and values and will always strive to uphold them (Lawrence & Heather, 2007). Such a society is difficult to achieve since there will always be initial offenders. However, the state of Texas for example through the management of the Texas Department of criminal Justice and the supervision of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice works towards the development of such a society one in which previous inmates do not find their way back into the prisons.
Intercepting the rehabilitation system may simply make other members of the society yearn for prison life and therefore commit more crimes. Following this understanding, the board incorporates the participation of all members of the society in maintaining law and order. The program therefore includes the amalgamation of religious studies and other morally aligned studies into the education system. This ensures that the members of the society appreciate the peaceful coexistence with one another.
Religious studies and religion in general give members of the society some purpose in life besides answering some of the life questions that human intuitions will always keep asking. Through this, religion imparts values into people resulting in law abiding citizens. The United States of America is a highly religious society, one that safeguards the freedom of worship of all her citizens (Langton, Robbins & Judge, 2010). Program evaluation Restorative justice is arguably a scientific process with an elaborate procedure of implementation. Victim- offender meditation is the basic step of implementation.
In this the offender and the victim both reach a concession of compensation, this is a result of a mediated negotiation of the two, one in which the offender acknowledges his mistakes and therefore accepts to take full responsibility. Some of such cases do not therefore end up in court and the offenders do not serve prison terms, a possibility of the policy that saves the societal resources. Family group conferencing and restorative conferring are other such programs that pacify the tense relationship between offenders, victims and the society.
In such programs, the offenders interact freely with the rest of the society and enjoy the temporary freedom that such conferences provide. The programs make the offenders stay in touch with the societal norms and values and act as occasions of bonding (Crain, 2011). The inmates reunite with their loved ones and receive the painful reminder of their absence in their families. Restorative conferencing is wider and geared towards the restoration of the previous individual (Barnett, 2008). It is also called community accountability since it involves the participation of the entire community in restoring the inmates.
This type of conferencing targets juvenile offenders. These children break the law and have to be separated from the rest of the society. Children are a special group of people under the supervision of their parents. Child offenders may always be responsible for the crimes they commit but unlike adult offenders, they may never be accountable for the compensation. These programs therefore make the young offenders appreciate the importance of maintaining law and order besides offering them the psychological support for most of young children break down on the knowledge of their offense.
It however does not lift the provision of taking responsibility for the crime. The children are denied some of the rights in the holding facilities; this makes them appreciate the little freedoms that they take for granted once out of such facilities. Restorative cycles, cycles of support and accountability and sentencing cycles are all packaged in the restorative justice policy to ensure a complete package of punishment, reconciliation and reacceptance of the offenders back into the society. The policy views the prisons as virtual societies for the offenders.
The prisons have people of all sorts compelled to live together serving their terms for diverse offences. In such a society, people learn and embrace violence and in most cases, prisons experience the violence of varying magnitudes depending on the type of the prisons. The program’s primary objective therefore is to restore peace within the prisons and make the inmates understand the essence of peace and coexistence. After developing an ideal society within the prisons, the prisoners therefore become responsible members of the society who can be trusted with interactions with the rest of the society.
Limitations of the restorative justice policy The greatest limitation in the policy is that most people attach more importance on the monetary compensation. Such behavior results in the victims pardoning the worst creed of offenders back into the society. The restorative justice policy seeks to rehabilitate and make offenders not only accountable for their actions but to also change their behavior and become better members of the society. This explains the detailed regimen that the prisoners go through while in the holding facilities.
By trading monetary benefits for the entire program members of the society, increase chances for further infiltration of criminals among them and may heighten chances for retaliatory attack and crimes against them. Additionally, the policy is unnecessarily expensive and is more time consuming. This therefore casts doubt on the effectiveness of the policy. A number of criminals come out of prisons just to find their way back an occurrence that proves the programs ineffective. Restoration works better with children who are thereafter sent to approved schools or orphanages.
In adulthood, the programs are unnecessarily expensive since some of the adult offenders understand the system effectively but will still commit crimes. Conclusion Restoration is formulated on the principles of religion, ethics and morality. It seeks to develop a holistic society that incorporates every member. The attainment of such a society is humanly impossible, a factor that has hampered the effectiveness of the program in such states as Texas. The policy is however realistic and has often helped a number of offenders. It has a number of limitations just as any other since it is never possible to have a completely effective policy.
Its strengths outweigh its weaknesses thus making it an appropriate policy for the modern day correctional facilities (Latimer, 2005). Prisons reconstruct personality; the policy provides an effective framework for this reconstruction by providing basic definitions of humanity and behavior. It does not simply punish but provides in depth understanding of behavior. It thus seeks to develop understanding in all the stakeholders and members of the society convicts and reconvicts alike. The only hindrances to the success of the policy are implementation and the over reliance on monetary compensations.
After formulating such appealing policies, financial commitment becomes a prerequisite and the government simply pledges this in most cases but leaves the bulk of the work of the state government, which may not have the capacity to implement such. The courts also need not over stress the monetary compensation but allow the offenders a chance to go through the procedure to help develop wholesome individuals who embrace the importance of peace besides understanding the essence of responsive behavior (Jenkins, 2006). References Barnett, H. (2008). Constitutional and Administrative law.
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