Are Community Corrections a success?
Community corrections are an integral part of the corrections systems. Yes it can be said that community corrections are successful in offering some very good and viable alternatives of incarceration to the offenders at the different stages of the criminal justice system. The community correction programs are a much more improved version over the traditional correction programs on humanitarian grounds. They are successful as they give the offenders certain viable alternatives that shall let them live their lives in a peaceful manner.
Their success can be gauged from the fact that the community correction programs offer many opportunities and are more responsive to the requirements of the offenders, the communities and the victims. As we list the many benefits of the community based corrections programs the general public does not really accept the program due to various reasons. The general public has not accepted the many community correction programs like probation, day and full parole, fines, intermittent prison sentences and finally temporary absences.
It’s only in the past 30 years that community corrections have come on to becoming a very important part of the whole corrections system. There are quite a lot of debates around the utility of the corrections system. The attempt underneath the community corrections movement is the need to reduce over reliance on the methods of incarceration; this is achieved by giving the less serious offenders a chance with the alternatives of community program. The proponents of the community corrections programs alternatives propose that all these alternatives are much more successful and are much better alternatives to traditional incarceration.
Cohen’s Concept of ‘net widening’
Cohen(1985)had very recently proposed the phenomenon of net widening that has the result of attempts in reducing the scope of the formal criminal justice system. This is done through different procedures like diversion, decriminalization and deinstitutionalization. A very important premise of the analysis of net –widening is that it is an unintentional consequence of very broadly based and also a ‘destructuring’ movement which is also theoretically homogenous. The term net- widening is used within the context of critical criminology and is used to describe the effects of providing any of the alternatives to any diversion or incarceration programs so that the offenders can be directed away from the court. He has argued that there were contradictory and competing perspectives as to how the destructuring alternatives can be constituted. Cohen was the Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the renowned London School of Economics.
Foucault’s concept of the ‘carceral network’
Foucault (1995) had spoken about the ‘carceral network’ in his book Discipline and Punish. The writer has spoken about the work on the many surveillance systems and the use of the technologies over the existing modern societies. It also emphasized on the practice of discipline and social control over the many populations in the different areas of the social life. Foucault speaks about Mettray which is a very famous carceral institution. He suggested a completely new way of viewing the carceral system and the acceptance of the system points to a triumph that law of the norm is the supreme one. The carceral system is extremely powerful than the others. However Foucault has tried to instill in us some hope that change shall happen. Foucault has tried his best in not inspiring any kind of a rebellion against the present existing and a very modern disciplinary system but has tried to promote a deep down understanding of the many components and its operation.
(Corrective services Figures n.d.) Have also suggested some interesting findings. As per the figures from the 2005 data about 80.5% of all the orders had a very successful completion of the Community Corrections Orders. The statistics of the 2006 data had an up successful completion of the community corrections orders and as a percentage it stood at about 81.6%. 2007 statistics that come out in April, 2007 had a decline of the successful completion of the community corrections orders. April, 2008 corrections also showed an increase in the successful completion of the community orders and the percentage stood at about 81.0%. The statistics from May 2009 suggested the successful completion of orders at 80.6%. 2009 again showed a slight decline in the successful completion of all the various types of orders at 20.0%.
2010 showed a slight increase in the successful completion of all the orders at 81.3%. 2010-2011 again had a slight decrease of about .2% and it stood at 81.1% on the successful completion of all the orders. 2011- 2012 data stood at a decrease at 79.7% on the successful completion of all the orders. Although these figures might not be fully accurate but the successful completion of all the orders is a confirmation that community corrections are surely a success. There is hope and ground for improvement but that can be done with sustained and planned efforts.
Pratt (2000) has delved deep down into the investigation of the history of punishment as the gradual shift from a dramatized carnival of punishment that takes place at public executions to a privatized and a non dramatic punishment. He has tried to emphasize an important shift towards the government that unintentionally or otherwise assumes a kind of a strong leadership role which is above the public opinion. In his book Pratt has analyzed a very strong and an invoked relationship between the condemnation or the justification of the society’s penal arrangements and the concept of civilization. His stance revolves around the fact that any civilized society does embodufy a very enlightened rationalism that is bureaucratic in nature. Hence the punishment that is meted out to the offenders is a revelation of how civilized a society is.
The text is a history of the punishment in the English speaking world beginning from the 19th century up till the present times. The work also examined the characteristics of any framework of punishment that went on to assume some very ‘civilized’ qualities in this time. He mentions what can happen in such a society where the process of civilization combine in a particular way and what shall happen when it does unravel. There is very little reference to black prisoners, to subaltern prison populations, juvenile offenders and women prisoners.
VERA Institute of Justice (2013) had very clearly pointed out to the effectiveness of community corrections. It said that community corrections supervise all those people who fall under the authority of the criminal justice system but are not serving jail sentence. It states that although mass incarceration does get much more media attention than anything else but what is known very less is about the state of the community corrections. Community corrections are less costly than the costs incurred in incarceration.
The article has emphasized on the fact that although the size and the costs related with prisons and jails has grown the investment for incarceration has not yielded the necessary results on public safety. Community corrections are a big opportunity for all those who wish to examine the overreliance on the systems of institutional corrections- the incarceration that happens in the jails and the prisons. We also need to reconsider the role that community corrections have to play in incarceration. The community based corrections are successful because they encompass within them pretrial supervision, parole and probation. Community corrections have a lot of capacity in them to bolster the concept of corrections and provide a whole new dimension to the concept of incarceration.
Hanser Robert (2013) speaks about community corrections as having public safety as the top most priority and moves on to explain the program evaluation, the future trends and the various evidence based practices that are a possibility with community corrections. Offender reintegration is an inherent part of community corrections. Hanser stresses on the need of punitive measures in corrections to a system that is integrated. He informs that community corrections has become an updated aspect of corrections and also uses the latest state of the art technology and its applications.
In the past many decades community corrections have become an integral part of the criminal justice systems. All the community corrections programs are a viable alternative from deterrence and sanction to intervention and assessment strategies which serve in addressing the protective factors and the offender’ risk. The increasing incarceration rates put a lot of fiscal burden on the budget. How effective community corrections are can be gauged from the many evaluation criteria’s like:
a. Who the clients of community corrections are?
b. What is the exact effectiveness of community corrections programs
c. The effectiveness of each of the community corrections services.
d. The effectiveness of each of the community corrections component
e. What are the most prevalent combinations of services and communities that the offenders get to participate in? What is the effectiveness of all such combinations?