In the criminal justice field, correction, correctional, and corrections are umbrella terms that are used to describe a variety of functionalities that are typically carried out by governmental agencies, such as prison and juvenile facilities, and involve treatment, punishment, and the supervision of individuals who have been convicted of various kinds of crimes. Therefore, the functionalities commonly include parole, imprisonment, and probation. In most instances, correctional institutions are mostly referred to as prisons. It can be derived that correctional facilities fall in the criminal justice system, which is essentially a scheme where lawbreakers are apprehended, typically after committing a crime, and are subsequently punished in accordance with the law. For this reason, it is one of the pillars of a democratic nation as it keeps people in check and that they abide by the laws. However, for the system to remain trustable and viable, the public should always be confident that procedural justice by ensuring that it is fair and not discriminatory (Bowers & Robinson, 2012. According to Tyler (2007), these aspects should be upheld for the entire criminal process for it to gain legitimacy among the citizens. The fairness and procedural justice need to be upheld in the entire process, from initial investigation of the alleged crime or offense, prosecution, and finally punishment. Consistency is vital in that similar crimes and offenses should be treated alike, and the treatment of the offenders should be in consistency with the Constitutions guarantee that equality will be upheld. However, the correction of an offender and the criminal justice system as whole is not effective as recidivism rates are high, as well as the disproportionately harsh treatment of the minorities, due to racial profiling. Additionally, most of the offenders are inhumanely treated, meaning that the correctional facilities should be subjected to reforms.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2011), since the announcement of the war on drugs by President Richard Nixon, the U.S. adopted tough criminal justice policies on crime, and this has subsequently led to the nations distinction to have the highest incarceration rate in the world. In essence, after the tough on crime policies, the last forty years, the criminal justice policymaking has been hampered by over-criminalization, and increasingly draconian parole and sentencing regimes, as well as mass incarceration that has subsequently led to quick prison building and impoverished communities of color (ACLU, 2011). In addition, the policies have been implemented at a great expense of the American taxpayer, as well as the huge budgets allocated have led to the questioning of the policies for criminalization. As such, budgetary reforms are needed. Therefore, accurate fiscal impact statements analysis should be conducted, as well as assess cost savings and expenditures for both local and state budgets.
The Executive Office of the President of the United States (2016) asserts that many of the states perform fiscal impact analysis incorrectly by underestimating cost savings and overestimating costs. Therefore, a long-term plan is necessary for planning on how to accurately complete fiscal impact for the criminal and correctional facilities bills. In addition, states need to take part of the budgetary savings to reinvest in programs that have been proven to reduce recidivism and improving communities. These programs include providing them with education and necessary skills to ensure that they acquire jobs after being released, as well as providing mental health and substance abuse treatment. In addition, the states should also invest in programs that hinder people from coming into contact with the correctional systems, such as providing education, housing, counseling, as well as employment for high-risk individuals as these have proved to be efficacious in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas.
In addition, ACLU (2011), posited that between 1970 and 2010, the U.S. experienced a growth of 700% in the number of individuals incarcerated. The position was supported by Liptak (2008), articulating that the U.S. incarcerates almost a quarter of the prisoners globally even though the nation itself has a worlds population of 5%. In essence, as ACLU (2011) asserts, at no point in the history of the country where so many individuals were denied their liberty, which is often contributed by an emotional response to perceptions of trends in crime or highly publicized crime. In consequence, the misguided law making process coupled with the highly punitive laws has prompted the criminal justice system to cast its nets too wide and subject offenders to long sentences in correctional facilities. It has significantly led to massive spending both on the federal and state level. It is recommended that there need to be systemic reforms, by ensuring that the criminal justice practices should be evidence-based and should also consider the various risk assessment instruments. In essence, policies are more effective in instances when they are crafted on science and criminology, rather than emotions or fear. The policies, even those for correctional facilities should be based on research that should prove that they could achieve their stated objectives and goals.
According to Mauer and King (2007), the impact of war on drugs in the American community has resulted in drug arrests tripling in the last 25 years, which totaled 1.8 million arrests by 2005. Also, by 2005, 42.6% of the arrests were attributed to marijuana offenses, and drug offenders in jails and prisons increased a record 1100% since 1980, as well as the fact that around half a million people are in federal or state prisons for drug offenses. Another indicator noted by the authors was that African Americans comprised 14% of regular drug user, but are 37% of those arrested and make up 56% of people in state prisons for offenses culminating from drugs. In addition, they serve almost the same time in federal prisons (around 58.7 months) as whites who have committed violent offenses (approximately 61.7 months), which is largely attributed to racially disparate sentencing laws. In essence, the study is in line with ACLUs (2011) which reported that racial disparities that result from the U.S. system are relatively staggering as blacks are imprisoned nearly six times as the whites, while the Latinos are locked up approximately twice the rate whites are. Reforms, in this case, means eliminating instances of racial profiling, and police officers should be answerable if proof of such instances surfaces.
Furthermore, in 2011, the Supreme Court weighed on the debate of making reforms in the criminal justice system. In May 2011, the Supreme Court case Plata v. Brown recognized the dangers of overcrowding prisons and jails, and the court mandated that the State of California should enact reforms that reduce the prison population to alleviate the problem of unconstitutional overcrowding. Another issue with the correctional process is that there is a lack of opportunities once an offender is released as they may lack proper housing, education, or employment. For this reason, they may return to crime to cater for these needs. In effect, the problem of recidivism results. In this case, recidivism refers to reoffending or the tendency that an offender relapses back to criminal behavior once released from a correctional facility. The necessary reforms as far as drug offenses are concerned are reducing penalties for the drug offenses because most of the offenders who have been incarcerated for drugs. In addition, decriminalizing drug possession is paramount, particularly marijuana because it has been legalized in some states, as well defelonizing possession of small amounts of other drugs. Alternatively, states should consider these offenses as misdemeanors, and impose non-prison sanctions, which has worked in Kentucky and California. In addition, states need to eliminate cocaine and crack disparate sentences.
According to the Executive Office of the President of the United States (2016), there is a significant churn in the number of incarcerated individuals, with more than 600,000 prisoners being released on a yearly basis. The number of prison population, as revealed earlier has grown, and so does the releases. As the report points out, prison releases can subsequently lead to readmissions through the expansion of the population under parole. In another study conducted by Durose, Cooper, and Snyder (2014), the total five-year recidivism rates for state prisoners is over 70%, and this is inclusive of both new arrests and court convictions. As the researchers posit, the high rates of reoffending subsequently amplify the growth of incarcerated individuals, which creates a revolving door in the correctional facilities. Durose, Cooper, and Snyder (2014) also reported that of the 600,000 prisoners released on a yearly basis, 70% of them are rearrested within five years of their release. Additionally, from the National Statistics on Recidivism report, the Bureau of Justice studied recidivism issues in the criminal justice system, and reported that the rate is increasing. For this reason, it reveals that the corrections are not effective. For this reason, it is paramount to understand the ways that specific penalties may affect instances of reoffending in structuring the criminal justice policies. To reduce the number of prisoners, which would significantly cut the expenditure, is to provide non-prison sanctions for low-level offenses. For this reason, States should mandate non-prison alternatives, including drug treatment, probation, and community service, which will subsequently reduce the number of prisoners. In addition, eliminating mandatory minimum sentence is vital in decongesting the correctional facilities as the structure in the 1950s and 1960s gave discretion to judges, and consequently made them sentence people to vast disparate sentences for similar offenses culminating from racial bias.
The Executive Office of the President of the United States (2016) also states that incarceration increases the probability of re-offending relative to alternative sanctions. However, as the report asserts, incarceration could also reduce re-offending instances if it appropriately rehabilitates the offenders, incapacitates active offenders or the prison experience might deter them from committing future crimes. However, it is important to note that incarceration could also increase the level of re-offending in instances when it builds criminal expertise and limits employments after they are released, either by labor market stigma or skill atrophy. According to Bernburg and Krohn (2003). Incarceration can increase the levels of recidivism in instances when it elevates the feeling of resentment, creates social stigma contributing to alienation, or when it strengthens personal identification as a delinquent. In addition, Kuziemko (2013) revealed that longer sentences are associated with lower reoffending, but is attributed to their aging, but for laws that limit early parole release, they increase recidivism via the dis-incentivizing the inmates to subsequently exhibit model behavior or entice their dislike in participating in the rehabilitation process. These are behaviors that are rewarded to those released under parole. For this reason, it is recommended that incarceration should ensure that the inmates are rehabilitated and promote parole release based on conditional good performances for the inmates. Importantly, programs that support successful rehabilitation and providing opportunities for the inmates to build labor market skills are paramount in eliminating the barriers to reentry after being released, and in consequence, it redu...
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