Community supervision and correction programs are touted as better alternatives to incarceration for non-violent criminal offenders. However, a number of these programs have not fulfilled the expectations and promises that led to their adoption. In our adult correctional department, programs that include parole, probation, house detention, day reportage centers, and restorative justice have had mixed results. Whereas day reportage centers and restorative justice have shown positive results, parole, probation, and house arrests have had negligible effects at reducing recidivism. Consequently, the continued implementation of these ineffective programs in the usual manner burdens our department and the community in terms of fiscal, work force, and time resources. Therefore, as the newly elected executive of this correctional department, I propose some new and improved community supervision and correction initiatives. Current paper highlights the plans I intend this department to adopt and will outline how the plans ought to be implemented if effective outcomes are to be realized. I propose supportive reintegration, electronic monitoring, and cognitive-behavioral therapy as the cornerstones of our department’s reforms agenda on community supervision and correction programs. Although there are many other effective programs unmentioned here, research studies and tests have proved these three to be the most effective in terms of their comprehensiveness and ease of evaluation.
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Statement of the Problem
The escalating costs and relative ineffectiveness of prohibitive institutional correctional facilities such as prisons warranted the adoption of community supervision and corrections programs as viable alternatives for non-violent offenders. Although community supervision and corrections are laudable, the 2008 recession financially strained the sustenance budgets of these programs in many states. In fact, from 2008 onwards, a majority of U.S. states have had a collective yearly expenditure of over $46 billion in these programs. This makes community supervision the fastest growing general expenditure after the Medicaid (U.S. Department of Education, 2011). In response, many states commenced r-evaluations of these programs with the aim of making budget cuts. More worrying, however, are the public complaints levelled against our approaches to community supervision and corrections programs for being outdated and ineffective. While disputable, evidences from our community suggest that many parolees and probationers under our programs have not successfully completed their community supervision or have high rates of recidivism. Reports from our filed agents attribute this worrying trend to the conditions that confront many of the parolees and probationers. These conditions include lack of necessities, lack of family and friends support, lack of high school credentials, and outdated skills sets. The latter two limit their employment opportunities and the situation only gets worse with discriminatory hiring practices that reluctantly accept them or ban them entirely. As a result, most of them relapse into criminal behaviors, as most only find solace in the company of their criminal peers. Therefore, it is imperative that our department reviews and introduces community corrective and supervision programs that recognize the challenges parolees face in order to make meaningful gains that ensure their chances of relapsing into crime are minimal.
According to Leanne Alarid and Rolando del Carmen (2012), re-entry preparation, which is analogous to supportive integration, refers to any initiatives that address issues necessary to ensure the successful transition of ex-offenders and their sustained crime free existence. Re-entry measures range from family reunification, case management, mental health treatment, and/ or transitional housing. In essence, they tend to address the societal challenges that bombard parolees and probationers on their release back to society.
Our current probation and parole programs are traditional in the sense that they neglect the societal welfare of the offenders, and instead concentrate on their individual attributes. This is against findings from empirical studies that affirm ex-offenders’ propensity to relapse into crimes is driven by negative societal reception such as bbeing shunned by family and friends, limited or lack of job opportunities, and lack of necessities (food, housing, health care, etc.) (Schmidt, 2010). The lack of social support and negative attitudes towards these parolees and probationers lead to their withdrawal from society, a situation that tempts them to engage in antisocial behaviors and recidivism.
Under my guidance, the target population will enroll in re-entry programs that will involve their families, law enforcement officers, and social workers. However, their enrolment is necessary within the first two weeks of their integration back into society in order to prevent a drop in their willingness to participate. The program’s duration is 12 months through which they will be subject to “risk-focused” treatments. Moreover, it will involve tough screening to separate high-risk offenders from the low-risk offenders. Families and friends of the offenders will strengthen ties and extend counselling at homes. Law enforcement officers that have low caseloads will be useful in monitoring high-risk offenders to ensure they remain visible. This tracking of supervisees will involve: first, scheduled visits and searches to their homes to search for illegal or contraband items; second, unscheduled work visits to ensure they do not abscond their assigned duties.; and third, ride-a-longs trips of the officers to known “hotspots” where offenders are likely to revert to their old patterns (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2005). It is important to note that low-risk offenders will not be subject to tough supervision from law enforcers, as this tends to be counterproductive (Vera Institute of Justice, 2013). Instead, the community social workers under my department will supervise the low-risk offenders who are required to report to our day centers every 4 days. These 4 days will include either Saturday or Sunday because most offenders are prone to recidivism during weekends. Furthermore, low-risk offenders will undergo life skills educational programs and internships to enable them acquire sustainable livelihoods. The funding of this program does not require additional sources since it is feasible within the current budget that sustains those traditional supervision programs that are ineffective.