1) Can you imagine a criminal justice system that sent people to jail or prison no matter the offense? Or everyone had to remain incarcerated until a trial date? Fortunately, we do not live under such a system. Community Corrections is an alternative to incarceration; it is used for pre and post-conviction. Its programs oversee offenders outside of jail or prison ( Stojkovic & Lovell,2019). Community corrections objectives are to offer an alternative to incarceration, lower jail and prison populations, incarceration costs, and supervise offenders once released from prison. The issues with alternative sentencing are highly complex because each program has its problems. For example,“ diversion programs are alternatives to standard arrests and prosecution processes”( Stojkovic & Lovell,2019, 7.2 section, para. 3). An accused offender that participates in the diversion programs can avoid a trial. However, “the accused gives up his due process guarantees that accompany formal prosecution”( Stojkovic & Lovell,2019, 7.2 section, para. 3). The accused could be innocent. It seems to make the accused guilty of a crime he may or may not have committed. Another issue with the diversion program it may undermine the focus for justice for the victims ( Stojkovic & Lovell, 2019). The accused may be guilty and may not be adequately punished with the option of the diversion program.
Probation is an excellent way for offenders to pay their debt to society without or less incarceration time.“ Some argue that probation depreciates the seriousness of an offense, especially when it is a felony that could result in lengthy incarceration”( Stojkovic & Lovell, 2019,8.3 section. para. 7 ). Probation can be an easy way out for offenders who committed a crime that deserves incarceration. It can be unfair to some offenders. A sentence disparity occurs when a person commits a similar crime but receives a different sentence( Stojkovic & Lovell,2019). Bias can influence whether an offender gets probation or incarceration.
After a person is released from prison, he returns to society. Reintegration aims to provide opportunities in the community for the formerly incarcerated to live as law-abiding citizens ( Stojkovic & Lovell, 2019). The ex-offender learns to adapt to the beliefs and community values of the community in which he resides. It can also be a form of rehabilitation for the ex-offender.“ Community-based education, counseling, and support services are available to ex-offenders ( Stojkovic & Lovell, 2019). The Restorative Justice program is a community corrections program that aims to assist reintegration. The Restorative Justice program aims to repair the harm a crime has done to the victim and the community( Stojkovic & Lovell, 2019, 7.1 section, para. 13). The program allows the offender to make amends with the victims and the community. This can start the healing process for the victims and the ex-offender becoming a law-abiding citizen.
2) Alternative sentences utilize “a suspended sentence, probation, fines, restitution, community service and deferred adjudication/pretrial diversion”(Alternative Sentences, 2019), as a different means of conviction rather than jail or prison time. Alternative sentences can be utilized to decrease the population in prisons that may already be too high. It also allows for a chance for first-time offenders to avoid jail time by being placed on probation or given community service. However, a problem that could be conceived is individuals may take the alternative sentencing as a free pass and continue to commit crimes. Additionally, some of the alternative sentences could result in the offender later being incarcerated for violating the conditions of his/her sentence. Failure to abide by probation terms, failure to pay fines or restitution, failure to complete community service or failure to complete the deferred adjudication process. If an offender does fail to do any of these, they wind up in jail or prison, thus wasting the state’s time and money.
When an offender is placed on probation, it is an alternative to incarceration or fines. The incarceration sentence or fine is suspended and the offender avoids incarceration if the conditions are met while on probation. If the offender fails to meet the conditions, the suspended sentences could be activated. Due to the offender having to meet conditions of probation and understanding that failure to do so could mean incarceration, probation meets the goals of sentencing. It helps to reduce future criminal activity from the offender.
Reintegration can take place inside of prison, but also outside when the offender is released. It utilizes involving the offender with programs to assist them with problems or help them learn trades they can utilize as a citizen. Parole and probation officers can assist an offender with connecting to professional help such as substance abuse help. Additionally, program staff inside correctional facilities can do the same.
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