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The Effectiveness of Community-Based Corrections Program

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Correction is believed by many experts to be the most challenging and frustrating component of criminal justice. There are the challenges of managing the inmates daily as well as the frustrations of inevitable mismanagement at attempting to accomplish multiple goals. New challenges present themselves every day. In a very real sense, employees in a correctional system are doing time the same as the inmates are doing time. It’s easy to conduct a trial and sentence somebody; what’s difficult is what to do with them after they’re sentenced. Everything in corrections is done on a large scale because there is an endless stream of prisoners. In the Philippines, the government is facing a severe budgetary crisis that affects the Criminal Justice System most particularly the Corrections Pillar. It is in a bind due to the economic crisis the country is experiencing. And because of this, in order to improve the peace and order situation and so that the economy could get out of this crisis can only mean improving the law enforcement, prosecution of the offenders and the correctional system of the country. If this situation will continue, it would only result to increase in crime rates and more and more perpetrators will be placed in jails and in prisons which will increase its population and cannot be effectively rehabilitated because of lack of funds (Foronda, 2007).

Overcrowding in prisons will result if these problems will not be solved or if not be minimized. Over congestion also brutalizes life in penitentiaries and in provincial jails. Herding individuals in cramped spaces is cruel, inhuman, ill, degrading, and unjust punishment. Overcrowding is dangerous to health and to human life. It breeds diseases, breaks down discipline and exacerbates tensions. Having to fight for air and space 24 hours a day make prison, in the words of inmates, a living death. Add dirty tap water, dingy toilets, substandard meals, gang war, lack of prison personnel, favoritism, and having a system built for punishment, not for rehabilitation. This is not the enlightened approach to penology which is reform geared towards a succeeding productive life upon reentry to the community.

It is a throwback to the 18th century that treated prisoners as animals unfit to renew themselves and rejoin society. Correction is considered as the weakest pillar because of the fact that it fails to rehabilitate offenders who commit again another crimes while serving their sentence. The above mentioned issues on the correctional institution also exist in Surigao City which made the government find other ways to eradicate and if not be able to minimize these problems and this led to the development of community-based corrections program. Because of the issues concerning the corrections pillar, a notion came to the researchers’ minds as to the efficacy of community-based corrections program in eradicating and if not minimizing the likelihood of an individual in committing crimes as well as the inmates’ reformation. An inmate’s reentry to the community will be a big threat to the maintenance of security and it will greatly affect the peace and order situation because of the probability that he might commit crimes again.

Based on the aforementioned ideas, the researchers are influenced to conduct the study because the idea is that it gives a huge contribution to better quality of life in a sense that this would identify the effectiveness of community-based corrections program in the rehabilitation of the inmates in Surigao City who are under this program and to be able to determine whether or not it fits the correctional goals.

Review of Related Literature
This portion of the study reviews books, electronic sources, and other literature which have direct bearing to the present study. They are classified as to foreign and local sources. Corrections is a term used as a social control mechanism for convicted offenders, and it also serves to keep others law abiding. It includes punitive sentencing policies which contributed much to the correctional growth not just in institutional corrections but to non-institutional corrections as well or what we commonly known as community-based corrections (Cromwell, Alarid and del Carmen, 2007). It has two main types namely the institutional correction and the non-institutional correction where both have the main goal: to rehabilitate and reform the offenders.

Corrections agencies are either institutional (jails and prisons) or community-based (probation, parole, electronic monitoring, and so on). We recognize the importance of keeping offenders who are dangerous to the public or who have committed violent crimes so heinous that incarceration is a deserved punishment. However, the vast majority of offenders who commit crime should not go to jail or prison because the crime does not warrant imprisonment. Judges and prosecutors need a variety of punishments from which to choose, and community corrections offer them a variety of sentencing options. The United States currently has the largest number of alternative community-based programs of any nation in the world (Locke, 1998).

The role of prisons or correctional systems (as the vast array of prison or prison-related facilities, programs, and services are called) is to make society a safer place. Prisons are based on the idea that some people are so naturally evil that they must be cut off from the rest of society and closely monitored. In theory, however, they should be based on some type of philosophy or basis for punishment – such as deterrence, retribution, reintegration, incapacitation, or rehabilitation. Throughout most of the twentieth century, the dominant philosophies have been incapacitation, deterrence, and retribution (this combination being called the custodial model) except for a brief period from 1954 to 1974 when rehabilitation (also called the medical model) was experimented with.

Rehabilitation died in 1974 with publication of the so-called Martinson Report (Martinson 1974) that “nothing works” and was further delivered the death blow in 1989 with Mistretta v. United States which allowed judges to sentence defendants without regard to the amenability toward treatment or potential for rehabilitation. Martinson’s findings that all 231 different ways of treating criminals had failed were called into question by others (Gendreau & Ross 1987; Palmer 1991), but the general consensus remains in criminal justice that prisons not only don’t work, but are an expensive way of making bad people worse (Waddington 1992; Blumstein 1995). The Canadians and Brits are about the only ones left in the world who believe in the correctional rehabilitation of criminals, although there is a trend in contemporary jurisprudence for courts to take a more therapeutic approach (Alighieri, 2004). Prison overcrowding is a global problem. Some countries have it worse than the U.S., for example, Australia, Russia, Brazil, and most Asian countries. Housing more inmates in a cell than what it is designed for is common in the U.S. and anywhere else overcrowding is present. The average prison cell built today is at least 70 square feet (7×11 or 8×9), but only about 60 square feet are usable, resulting in 30 square feet per prisoner if double celled. Some older prison and jail cells provide 40 to 56 square feet (5×8 or 7×8).

Federal judges in many states have ruled since 1977 that every prisoner deserves at least 60 square feet of cell space. The fact is that cell size varies depending upon the type of facility. In state prisons, the average inmate is male (females only make up about 7% of the prisoner population), around 30 years of age, a high-school dropout (only 22% have finished high school, and between 50-75% are unable to read), and African-American (46%), white (33%), Hispanic (18%), or other (3%). The majority of inmates (60%) have served time before, at least twice, primarily for a violent crime. In federal prisons, one is more likely to find a preponderance of drug and property offenders. More than half of all prison and jail inmates report some type of employment at the time of their arrest, and those that did have a job reported an annual income of less than $10,000 a year. Forty-two (42%) percent of state prison inmates report that they had at least one other family member – usually a brother, parent, or sister — incarcerated at some time (Alighieri, 2004). Community-based corrections’ development is due to the problems encountered by correctional institution.

According to Cromwell, Alarid and del Carmen (2007), it is a nonincarcerative sanction in which offenders serve all or a portion of their sentence of their sentence in the community. It consists of two basic types of supervision: (1) front-end sanctions, sentenced by judges that serve as alternative to incarceration; (2) back-end programs, participants of whom are assisted by correctional officials in community-reentry after prison. It is an alternative to incarceration because it allows the offender to stay within the community while participating in the programs of the institution with the aim of preventing the likelihood of an individual in committing crimes and in controlling future criminal behaviors. Another is the back-door programs or back-end programs; these are community programs such as parole which allows community reentry of an offender. One more kind of a back-door program is the prerelease program, it is an institutional setting for imprisoned offenders who have already served their sentence in prison and are nearing for a release. It is considered to be more treatment-oriented than prison through half-way houses, boot camps and therapeutic communities that are located inside the prison but are separated in the prison population.

Its main purpose is to save money and lessen the prison space while also providing specialized treatment regimen. The international community has long recognized that the goals of a humane criminal justice system are best served if offenders are reintegrated and rehabilitated by means other than incarceration. In fact, it has been widely accepted that incarceration or imprisonment should be a last resort and utilized for those who have committed serious and heinous crimes, and that community-based treatment should instead be promoted whenever possible and reasonable to hasten an offenders’ reintegration into society. Imprisonment leads to other problems related to an offender’s stigmatization and desocialization. Often, prisons put a stop to the offenders’ potential for growth and excellence, and spawn dependence and mistrust on their part instead. Prisons usually alienate offenders from their family, friends and acquaintances. Due to overcrowding, prisons lead to dehumanizing conditions, which make reintegration and resocialization even more difficult (Yangco, 2010).

The desired outcome of the criminal justice system’s involvement with offenders has always been to guarantee public safety. In recent years, however, criminal justice practitioners have begun to ask new questions about the most effective ways in which that goal may be achieved, and the implications of these new strategies on the management of offenders. New approaches to offender management have different implications for different agents within the system, whose roles have, in the past, been more function than system focused (for example, where the role of prosecutors has been primarily concerned with the lawful conviction of offenders, judges with the imposition of fair and just sentences, and institutional corrections with the safe and secure custody of offenders). Current policies encourage these agents to consider the impact of their individual responsibilities on a broader offender management strategy. Community corrections is a critical lynch pin in these efforts, responsible for effectively managing offenders while on probation (and in some jurisdictions, pre-trial and parole).

As with other agents within the system, collaborating with internal and external partners has become increasingly critical to the accomplishment of community corrections’ mission of enhancing public safety by effectively managing offenders in the community. The term “rehabilitation” entered the official jargon of corrections in the country in 1955. This was when the Geneva Convention introduced the United Nations Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners to which the country is a signatory. Considered a breakthrough in protecting the rights of the incarcerated or those under the custody of law, rehabilitation has become the principal goal of corrections. Rehabilitation was first applied in medical practice. It came from the Latin word “habilis” — literally, fit or suitable. Its meaning was expanded to mean “to restore to sound operation” or “to reestablish the good reputation” (Bantam, 1991). Rehabilitation in correctional work is done through a combination of programs that involves spiritual activities, educational courses (formal and informal), medical and hygienic practices, cultural and recreational activities, productive work, counseling, therapeutic and disciplinary measures.

After the basic needs of an inmate are met, the formal rehabilitation process involves the following institutionalized programs: Inmate Work program, health care, education and skills training, recreation and sports, religious guidance and behavior modification using the therapeutic community approach (BuCor, 2011). Several types of community-based corrections programs such as probation, intermediate sanctions, boot camps, restitution, fines and day fines, house arrest and electronic monitoring and prisoner reentry are commonly used programs in the world. Probation is the release of a convicted offender under conditions imposed by the court for a specified period during which the court retains authority to modify the conditions or to resentence the offender if he or she violates the condition. (del Carmen, Witt, Caywood, & Layland, 1989). The purpose of which is to assist in reducing the incidence and impact of crimes by probationers in the community. The core services of probation are to provide investigation and reports to the court in order to help develop appropriate court dispositions for adult offenders and juvenile delinquents (American Probation and Parole Association, 1987).

Second is intermediate sentence, it is developed because of the questionable effectiveness of probation in protecting the public from further crimes by those under supervision of the court. It fell between probation and prison on a scale of severity and control, these are most suited on low-risk and non violent offenders (Feeley and Kamin, 1996). Third are boot camps, or shock incarceration programs, these are meant to instill discipline and responsibility in young, nonviolent offenders who have no prior incarcerations. It provides an experience much like those in the military basic training with serious physical training, hard work, and little or no free time (Cromwell, Alarid and del Carmen, 2007). But others have argued that boot camps hold potential negative outcomes because some or many are characterized by inconsistent standards, unnatural stress, and leadership styles that would lessen self-esteem and increase possibility for violence and encourage the abuse of power (Morash & Rucker, 1990).

Fourth is restitution where in it has been implemented even in the time if Hammurabi. It is a monetary penalty paid to victims by offenders to pay damages for their losses while teaching offenders responsibility for their actions (Cromwell, Alarid and del Carmen, 2007). Next is community service, an unpaid service to the public to compensate society for the damages or for some harm done by the criminal. Followed by the fines and day fines, these are routinely imposed for minor offenses such as traffic violations to misdemeanors. Then the house arrest and electronic monitoring, house arrest can be used either as a pretrial program for people not yet convicted or as a condition of probation.

Electronic monitoring is a means to ensure to ensure that certain conditions of probation are met. (Altman & Murray, 1997). Lastly, the prisoner reentry, any activity conducted to prepare ex-convicts in returning safely to the community and to live as law abiding citizens (Petersilia, 2003). Even if programs on community-based corrections are now widely known and used, still it came under attack because it fails to provide any ensurance that released offenders will not continue their criminal activity while under supervision. Douglas Lipton, Robert Martinson and Judith Wilks (1975) concluded, While some treatment programs have had modest successes, it still must be concluded that the field of corrections has not yet found satisfactory ways to reduce recidivism by significant amounts. (p.627).

The effectiveness of community-based corrections programs depend on the rate of recidivism and determining the success or failure is difficult because recidivism is defined differently by different researchers, and no universally accepted means to measure it exists. Thus, the effectiveness of parole, probation and other community-based corrections programs depends whether or not it fits the following correctional goals: protection of the public, rehabilitation, community reintegration and restorative justice.

In conclusion, providing a range of community-based sanctions allows the use of expensive prison beds and maximizing the space to hold those stubborn and violent offenders while giving hope to others who are less committed to criminality to become useful and law abiding citizens of the communities in which they live in. This is the hope and promise of community corrections.

Synthesis of the Review
The above cited literatures can contribute much to the undergoing study of the researchers on the effectiveness of community based corrections program because it will serve as supporting data to the efficacy of such program even if it is far to tell whether it would be a success or a failure. The public demands correctional programs that would satisfy both punishment and public safety objectives. Both the public and the criminal justice policymakers must come to understand that not all criminals can be locked up. Due to the increasing number of the prison population, policymakers seek alternative solutions to control or minimize criminal behavior which is less costly. The cited literatures correlate with each other in a way that it summed up to the idea that those offenders who do not pose harm to the community will only serve his sentence within the community and those offenders who cannot be maintained safely under the program will be the ones to be locked-up in jails and in prisons.

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