Alternatives in place may include shortening of the sentences, granting amnesty as well as other options such as reverting cases from serious offenses to less serious offenses whereby prisoners can pay fines instead of confinement. The removal efforts have been successfully integrated into the criminal justice for the past few years. However, the efforts of decongesting the correctional facilities have been frustrated by the realization that, after removal, majority of the inmates do not really reform.
This is supported by the findings of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in which it was established that even when inmates are pardoned or lesser charges are preferred against them and therefore are released, majority of those removed from the correctional facilities end up back to the prison (Langan, 1991. 1498-1571). This has placed serious doubts on the effectiveness and practicality of the decongestion programs. These worrying trends have led opponents of decongestion of correctional facilities to gain momentum in their opposition of the program.
Proponents of the decongestion effort on the other hand believe that correctional facilities are not to blame. It is the society which fails to reintegrate the offenders when they are released back to the society and therefore offenders end up being involved in criminal activities. From the above scenario, it seems that, while correctional facilities have a big role to play in the correctional process, certainly it is the society which can guarantee the successful reintegration of the correctional population within the society.
The society must have institutions in place which offer the necessary support to the offenders once they are released back. After all, correctional populations are legally, members of the society and are entitled to fair treatment and access to support facilities for as long as the treatment and support is in line with the parole. Correctional populations are likely to end up back in the jails and prisons unless they are made to feel as part of the community by getting the necessary support.
To make the correctional populations feel as an integral part of the community, there is a need to make sure that they have an access to health care, treatment for ailments, as well as a means of earning a decent income (Beck, 1995. 2-12). A source of income for the correctional population is very important given the fact that, the reason why most of them end up in the jails and prisons are financially motivated reasons such as; robbery, fraud, and theft. Such programs must also include educational program.
The education programs are very crucial considering the fact that, education is a source of empowerment especially to the young offenders as well as the juveniles. All the above calls for the criminal justice and the community to work in partnerships so as to guarantee success of the correction goals as well as the prison population reduction efforts. Conclusion Prison reduction may take a long time to achieve given the fact it is a program which requires input from different stakeholders.
While the correctional facilities certainly have to be at the fore front in the efforts to reduce the inmate population, the emerging challenges in the efforts to decongest prisons need multi sectoral approach with the legislative, the community and the judiciary playing very important roles. Corrections efforts have so far been successful. The few setbacks in terms of ineffectiveness compared to the advantages being achieved should not stop Americans from seeing the big picture.
All efforts by corrections to diversify the kind of punishments given to offenders are worth the support of every American citizen. Therefore there is a need to reduce inefficiency in the prison system so as to guarantee the success of the correctional facilities.
Page Beck, A. Growth, change, and stability in the US prison population, 1980-1995. Corrections Management Quarterly, 1(2). 1995. 2-12 Langan, P. America’s soaring prison population science. V. 251. 1991. 1498-1571 Reichel, P. Corrections: Philosophies, practices and procedures. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Balon. 2001. 45-69.