The US Prison System

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ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION The United States prison system is in need of a critical fix. The prison system is currently overcrowded. Prison officials, legislators and criminal justice practitioners are aware of the problem. However, there is no easy solution to this monumental problem. An alternative to incarceration is a daunting task that must be addressed. Over the next few pages we will explore several alternatives to incarceration in America’s prison system. THE PURPOSE OF CORRECTIONS The purpose of our correctional institutions has change considerably over time. This may be the result of public expectations and political pressure. Prior to 1776, during the colonial period, there were no formal prisons.…show more content…
Parole supervision, which in general resembles probation in methods and purpose, is simply a way of reintegrating the offender back into the community while serving the remaining time left on his/her sentence. Furloughs, halfway houses and similar programs discussed later are important additions to an effective parole program. Normally parole is granted by an administrative body called a parole board. The legal procedures for parole vary between jurisdictions. Basically the parole decisions for an adult offender may depend on statutes enacted by the legislature, or the sentencing guidelines imposed by the court. In most offenses, statues require that a certain amount of time must be served before parole is considered, or prohibit parole entirely. In the federal correctional system parole is currently not available (Tonry & Hamilton 1997). One program that supplements parole programs is a halfway houses, which is an increasingly familiar program. Basically, halfway houses are designed to facilitate the offender while he/she reintegrates with the…show more content…
There are other less popular programs that were not mentioned during this research, however their purposes are consistent with the goals of the programs listed above. When calculated on a cost per client basis, these programs are cost-effective alternatives to incarceration. Although these programs have proved their effectiveness, problems still remain. For example, in New York City probation caseloads often run between two and three hundred offenders per probation officer. With these numbers the program may lose its effectiveness. Other problems remain with management and resources. The future of corrections may be as simple as drug treatment. More than fifty percent of people arrested test positive for drugs. In some cases it may be as high as eighty percent. People addicted to drugs commit crimes to support their habits. As a result, drug abuse and crime are intimately linked. If we implement programs to treat drug abuse, we should see our crime rates reduced. It would be economically feasible to treat an individual for drug abuse rather than incarcerate them for the results of drug abuse (Austin 2001

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