Community corrections denote any agreement where offenders serve all or part of their sentence in the community (Alarid 4).The main purpose of community corrections programs is to ensure that many lawbreakers are efficiently held responsible for their misconducts and attain appropriate standards of living in the community (Alarid 1). Most offenders do not cause harm to themselves or to other people and, therefore, stay in the community without threatening public safety. Correctional options for offenders staying in the community enable them to contribute toward personal and familial obligations with genuine employment, paying income taxes and child care. The offenders can easily compensate victims through restitution or give back to the community through community service as compared to prison-bound offenders. Community corrections programs also protect offenders from being exposed to the subculture of cruelty thatis present in most jails and prisons (Alarid 1).The development of community corrections programs have raised several major issues. This paper examines current issues in community corrections.
Community Attitudes, the Media and Political Climate
Community notion of punishment and a political setting that supports a law and order reaction to law breaking is an obstacle to the enactment of rehabilitative tactics to offender supervision and management. Such perception stresses on punitive instead of rehabilitative ideologies. Many things that take place within community corrections are determined by the existing political climate (Astbury 40). The public has no correct information on the duties of community corrections. In addition, negative media reports and a continued political movement pose a threat to community corrections by making people view the programs as a risk to the security of the community (Astbury 40).
Re- offending Rates
The expansion of community corrections plans has led to the issue of whether the corrections can lessen recidivism levels. Community- level rehabilitation, which is one of the main philosophies of community corrections, emphasizes on transforming the offender behavior in a positive manner and enhancing community relationship through the use of supportive, participatory measures. From this perspective, the goal of community corrections is to avert recidivism through behavior modification using certain therapeutic or skills-based intervention. The focus is on personal growth and improved competences (White 44).
Community corrections play an important role in lessening recidivism propensities. The approach of supervised discharge has a positive impact on the minimization of re-offending (White 50). The use of day release programs is linked to effective completion of full parole. Therefore, it is clear that allowing the offenders to complete their sentence in a community setting is beneficial and enables them to be fully involved in rehabilitative and restorative forms of programs (White 50).
SecurityRisk to Communities
The issue involved is whether community corrections amenities and programs pose danger to the safety of communities where they are located. Community corrections are based on community incapacitation where the main focus is on the ideas of community safety and offender control. This entails rigorous monitoring and management of offenders in community surroundings. They keep offenders under close scrutiny to prevent them from re-offending (white 44).
These are programs that take place in community –based corrections that monitor the transition process. The persistent reentry issue facing society is, to what extent will the society back community-based change programs and employment of ex-offenders to prevent convicts from repeating their criminal cycle? (Alarid 276). Regarding unrestricted parole decisions, the system of swapping subjective assessments with quantitative risk assessments (based on age, offense gravity, and previous institutional commitment) minimizes the tendency to commit future crime. Parole boards are capable of playing a significant role in the discharge of offenders as long as the members have suitable education, training, and experience for the work. Until parole board membership is recognized as a remuneratedskilled position that is based on excellence instead of political appointment, quantitative risk assessment will gradually be the preferred wayof predicting future unlawfulconductrather thandepending on politicalessence and personaldecisions of board members (Alarid 276).
Conquering Community Obstruction to the Creation of Corrections Facilities and Programs.
The aim of community-based engagement is to enhance the physical state and infrastructure of particular sites and localities and change perceptions and attitudes among residents and non-residents about these regions. This can be done by promotingsharing activities, such asgames. Low locale attachment, economic deprivation and difficulty, as well as low community cooperation are rampant in regions with many casesof criminal behavior. Offenders are in a good position to handlethechallenges. Enhancing positive perception towards a region is important in transforming negative attitudes and anti-social behaviors into positive, pro-social directions (White 52). Community repute characterized with disgraceconnectedto gangs, misconduct and anti-social activities negatively affects the lives of individuals within the region. A bad community fame can lead to group attitudegroundedon sensitivity and pessimism. Therefore,transforming community reputation through communal growth is one way of handling these issues (White 52).
Government concerns with financial problems have led to much work but minimal resources being assigned to the corrections area (White 45). Although community corrections is a less expensive alternative in comparison to imprisonment, the issue regards the amount of money available for expert training, progressive and specialized expertise, total staff and forms of existing programs. Community corrections requirean increase in the funds allocatedin order to be valuable and enhancecohesive offender management. If adequate resources are not availed toenhance asuccessful community corrections sector, and if rigorous supervision and assistanceare not offered in the prisons to those who highly require them, then re-off ending is likely to rise. This leads to pressure to createfurtheramenities andincrease money on physical infrastructure.
The Role of Offender Characteristics and Motivation to Change
The characteristics of offenders and their determination to engage in treatment and supervision are vital in successful operation of community corrections. Though offenders may obey the legal requirements of court orders by joining supervision meetings, accomplishing community work demands and completing courses, they may not be keenlyparticipating. To solve this issue, the management should adopt motivational interviewing tactics, and the treatment programs and activities should be in line with the individual behavior and learning styles of offenders (Astbury 36).The officers should apply a motivational interviewing communication style to enable them build trust and help an offender in transforming and ensuring effective completion of probation. Effectual techniques include asking open ended questions of an offender, showingcompassion and being concernedthrough follow-up statements and positive recognition (Alarid 253).
Effectual Staff Performance and Administration of Staffing, Coaching, Supervision and Turnover.
Recruitment matters are highly linked to effective implementation of community corrections programs. Proper educational qualifications, skills, experience, professional values like empathy, and good listening and communication abilities are prerequisite. It is necessary to employ the right team and conduct workforce training and control. Staff turnover is associated with effective community corrections, and increased rates of staff turnover results in challenges with progression of care in the supervision of offenders. Increased levels of turnover also result in loss of expertise. Professionaldecision making is a crucial requirement of offender rehabilitation and evidence-based programs cannot thrive without a steady, knowledgeable and well trained workforce (Astbury 38).
Community corrections have been complicated by frequent changes at the level of professional philosophy and practice. For instance, increased anxiety regarding victim participation and perceptions in handling offenders, new procedures and instruments in risk assessment, and the gradually pervading impact of restorative justice principles are currently being re-worked into the professional language and skills of parole and probation officers (White 45). The manner in which community corrections fit into the general system of things is an issue of concern.
The current workingcondition of community corrections staff differssignificantly. Just as other human services, community correctionshave a challenge of financial shortage, increasinganticipations, expanding workloads and little compliment and public gratitude. The duties of community corrections are submitting reports to courts and parole boards, supervising offenders with regard to obedienceof court instructions including community service, and support and observation of offenders in the post-prison transformationtime of parole. In carrying out this tasks, community corrections officers spend a lot of time and energy in handling individual offenders, non-governmentalorganizations, direct service providers and others in the community.The job is demanding and entailsmuch emotional, physical, psychological and mental demands. It is, therefore, significant to ensure that the current issues are addressed efficiently to enhance the effectiveness of community corrections.
Alarid, Leanne F. Community Based Corrections. Place of publication not identified: Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.
White, Rob. “Community corrections and restorative justice.” Current Issues Crim. Just. 16 (2004): 42.
Astbury, Brad. “Problems of implementing offender programs in the community.” Journal of offender rehabilitation 46.3-4 (2008): 31-47.