Essay Sample. Trends in the Correctional System

Published: 2023-04-05
Essay Sample. Trends in the Correctional System
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Penal system Criminal justice Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1734 words
15 min read

Before the 18th century, traditional methods of punishment such as death and banishment were used to deal with offenders in society. In the late 1900s, there occurred changes in the political climate through the introduction of policy choices. Travis, Western, and Redburn (2014), described that incarceration was the major method of punishing the offenders in the 20th century. In many countries in the west, the prison population began to increase due to the punishment policy that expanded the length of duration spent in prison for fewer offenses (Travis et al, 2014). In 2007, the rate of incarceration begun to increase in the United States and by 2012, approximately 2.23 million people was in prison, reporting the highest rate in the world (Travis et al, 2014). Currently, the rate of confinement in Western Europe is about 100 per 100,000, but common law countries record higher rates, for instance, Canada and Australia. The correctional systems have introduced new methods of correction to reduce the rates of incarceration, social costs and, recidivism, hence protecting the public. These programs include monetary fines/compensation, community-based supervision (probation and parole). These methods help the criminals to acknowledge their mistakes and rectify their behaviors hence avoid any chance that reoffending. They are also effective in integrating the criminals into the community as they face less stigma and prejudices compared to incarceration (Kaeble, Maruschak, & Bonczar, 2015). Although the increase in incarceration was viewed as the best correction method, it has resulted in minimal crime reduction associated with high human, social and, financial costs. The state and federal policymakers would have to change the current policies and practices to adopt less punitive and effective correctional methods. The paper will discuss trends in the correction system and their impacts on current and future practices.

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Historical Background

Individuals' approach to offenders was based on revenue, restraint, and reformation. According to Empey (1967) in the 18th and 19th centuries, revenge was the major approach of dealing with criminals. This was the first revolution characterized by unfair systems, Techniques used during the period included corporal punishment, banishment, and capital punishment. The form of punishment changed in the late 19th century after the introduction of restraint. The process involved the imprisonment of the criminals to make them recognize and change their behaviors and also to deter others from committing similar crimes. This was the second phase involved in the imprisonment of the offenders to achieve rehabilitative and deterrent impact. In the early 20th century, the reformation was included as an effective approach for assessing the emotional and mental condition of the offender. However, imprisonment and reformation have failed to reduce the number of offenders because they are restrictive. In the 1900s, there was the reformation of the sentencing policies to increase the severity and certainty of prison sentences. Changes in the correction system were also introduced to maximize sentences for drug and violent crimes such as human trafficking, robbery with violence, child pornography (Travis et al, 2014). Changes such as technological advancements and studies on social science have introduced new trends to the justice system.

The Correctional systems have developed alternative methods to imprisonment during pre-trial, post-trial and post-incarceration periods. These alternatives aim to reduce the increased number of the prisoner and to reduce the tax burden. Probation and parole are privileges that allow offenders to avoid incarceration or to be released from prison earlier after serving a stint in prison (Kaeble, Maruschak, & Bonczar, 2015). The objective of these correction systems ways is to rectify an offender's behaviors by including them in society rather than barring them, and also minimizes the probability of repeat. The three types of correction trends include monetary fines/bails, community supervision (probation and parole), and open imprisonment. However, they are only granted to offenders who commit non-violent offenses. Bails, parole, and probation have played significant roles in reducing overcrowding in jails. They are also effective in rehabilitation. The changes in sentencing and correction policies have been focusing on reducing mass imprisonment, while at the same time keeping the society safe.

Monetary Fines and Compensation

When an offender is found guilty in a court of law, the correctional personal may define to impose a fine as a form of punishment. The correctional method is mostly used for a first offender, juveniles, and non-serious crimes (Travis et al, 2014). The offender is deterred through the imposition of a monetary sanction, and the sentence is suspended. The method is effective is the defendant was the state because of the restitution effect (Empey, 1967). Money collected from fines goes back to the government, but in case the victim is an individual, the money is paid in the form of compensation for pain and inconveniences. Monetary fines are commonly used and have minimized the rate of crime because it has no emotional impact on the offender (Travis et al, 2014). Moreover, it compensates the victims back to the position they were before the occurrence of the event. Studies conducted by Weisburd et al (2008) and Hawken and Kleiman (2009) on the effectiveness of monetary compensation on crime deterrence found that the criminals did not re-offend because of the financial loss suffered (Travis et al, 2014).

According to Moffatt and Poynton (2007), fines are the most used correctional method for criminal convictions in New South Wales. For instance, approximately 56,528 people were fined by NSW Local Courts as a penalty in 2005. The number represents half of the population that was sentenced to the local courts. Monetary fines are currently the most used as an alternative method to incarceration because they are less to administer and collects revenue for the states. The finances paid by the offender are redirected to the victim to restitute for any psychological and physical harm suffered. Fine is a flexible method because it can be accustomed to meet the severity of the crime and the harm of the victim (Goldenbeld, 2017). Although the method is effective for retribution, it does not burden the offender as it avoids social costs associated with imprisonment. For example, the offender just suffers financial loss, but he continues living a normal life without facing stigma in the community. The offender remains in the community hence does not require social support from the taxpayers. Goldenbeld (2017) conducted a meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of fines in deterring traffic violations. The study proved that an increase in fines reduced reoffending by 15 percent (Goldenbeld, 2017).

Correctional Supervision methods (Probation and Parole)


Probation is an alternative to a jail sentence granted by a jury when the crime at hand is not serious and the circumstances do not suggest that jail sentence is the appropriate punishment. It is also required that the probationer is not a threat to society. The offenders are allowed to remain in the community but they have to follow certain conditions stipulated by the judge within a specified period. The probationer must also make regular reports to the probation officer as required by the judge. When a convicted criminal receives probation rather than being sent directly to prison, he or she is given a chance to demonstrate that they are capable of rehabilitating themselves (Kaeble et al, 2015). According to Burrell, Williams (2005), in America, the number of people sentenced to probation has been changing over the years. In 1995 the number of people sentenced to probation increased 3,077,861 4,151,125 in 2004. The number of people sentenced to probation increased by 0.2 percent. New Jersey, Mississippi, Kentucky, and, New Mexico were among the four states whose number of probationers increased by 10 percent (Burrell 2005). Since 1990, the number of individuals on probation accounts for almost half the increase in the prison population.


The parole system was introduced by Sir Walter Crofton in the 1800s when he began the issue of leave tickets as an idea of intermediate jails (Kaeble et al, 2015). Crofton was granting the tickets to inmates who were well behaved with an early release from jail. In parole systems, inmates can serve their prison sentences live in the community and maintain their daily activities (Kaeble et al, 2015). The number of people given parole sentences has been increasing over the years. In 1995 the number of people who went to parole was 679,421 and the number increased to 765,355 in 2004. The number indicates that the country's parole population increased by 2.7 percent (Burrell, 2005). It means that the number of people who serve parole sentence increases more in years compared to the number of people who serve the probation sentence.

Currently, the jury is sentencing people to community corrections such as probation and parole to decrease the prison population, and also create room for reintegration. Although some people in the community have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of parole and probation, most feel that the programs rehabilitate offenders. Some also argue that there is no need of putting in prison an offender who did not commit a serious crime. Heinous criminals should be sent to prison because they are a threat to social safety. The society has accepted the community supervision methods of correcting offenders. After criminal proceedings, the defendant is either convicted or pleads guilty.

The judge listens to the two sides attentively make his decisions after analyzing the conformities and non-conformities of the case. During a criminal case sentencing, the judge decides on the appropriate punishment the defendant deserves based on the magnitude of the offense. The judge may reduce or enhance a sentence depending on the level of crime. The judge may require the defendant to participate in rehabilitation programs so that he can reform. If the crime is of low magnitude, the judge may require the defendant to participate in rehabilitation programs outside prison but if a crime is a heinous one, the judge may require the defendant to attend rehabilitation centers inside prisons (Travis et al, 2014).

The restorative justice approach helps law officials to deal with problem behavior in the country by social discipline window and Reintegrative Shaming theories. The approach focuses on the individual hurt, the one causing harm and the community itself. It transforms bad behaviors in the community by healing the wound caused in a relationship. Reintegrative Shaming separates the offenders from the offense and hence bringing them closer to the community rather than excluding them (Bazemore, & Schiff, 2015). This helps them acknowledge their mistakes and rectify their behaviors hence avoid any chance that the offender will repeat the offense. The social discipline window aims at transforming, involving, collaborating, and empowering the offenders. The approach is effective in changing criminals' behaviors and law officials should continue using them and to achieve a safe society.

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