TheUnited States prison population has been increasing over the recentpast to the extent that there are almost 1.5 million inmates on anygiven day (Peak, 2014). One of the major concerns with the prisons isovercrowding. The increased prison population in the United Stateshas been contributed by the high rates of moral decline in thecountry. The effectiveness of the criminal justice system has beenquestioned by various individuals, taxpayers, and organizations.Prisoners are locked behind bars to learn their lesson and preventothers from committing similar of other crimes. However, the systemseems to be ineffective in crime prevention and reduction. Does theincarceration of criminal offenders in the society help in crimedeterrence? The primary objective of incarceration is to put criminaloffenders away from the community and maintain safety. However,recent research studies indicate that incarceration of thenon-violent offender only makes them worse (Lambie & Randell,2013). The paper aims at establishing alternatives to incarcerationand why it is important to seek such measures. Further, it shedslight on the importance of punishments and imposition of sanctions inthe community.
Economicand historical reasons behind quest for alternatives to incarceratingoffenders
Numerousresearch studies advocate for alternatives to incarceration becausethe growing epidemic of moral decline cannot be solved by lockingcriminals in jail. The search for other measures to incarceration hasbeen facilitated by economic, social, and historic factors. Forinstance, due to the high number of prisoners, the federal governmentis forced to construct more prisons to create more space[ CITATION Rob11 l 1033 ].Nonetheless, the government uses colossal amounts of taxpayers’money to construct more prisons, but in vain. As a result, thegovernmentspends a lot of money to construct and maintain these prisons. On theother hand, alternatives to incarceration are cheap and will save thegovernment millions, prevent overcrowding, and help in rehabilitatingprisoners.
Secondly,incarcerating criminal offenders does not guarantee a change in theirsocial behaviors. On the contrary, detaining non-violent and pettycriminals in the same area with violent criminals tends to worsentheir behaviors as a result of social learning theory[ CITATION Lam13 l 1033 ].Therefore, instead of eliminating criminal offenders in the society,incarceration breeds more criminals. Once released from prison, theseindividuals go back to their normal criminal life.
Finally,alternatives to incarceration have proved to be an effectivemechanism for reducing recidivism and transforming prisoners intovaluable members of the society. For instance, various programsoffered in prison help inmates acquire skills and knowledge that canbe utilized in a productive manner in the society[ CITATION Rob11 l 1033 ].The federal government ought to initiate rehabilitation programs,vocational training, and therapy among prisoners as a way of changingtheir behaviors.
Alternativesto incarceration for juvenile
Thegovernment could opt and implement various programs alternative toincarceration that would restore good behavior among criminaloffenders and inculcate productive skills. Alternatives toincarcerations are vital for the inmates because they offervocational training, therapy, and necessary support.
Juvenileoffenders require a unique environment with a home-like setting thatis appropriate for therapeutic purposes[ CITATION Rob11 l 1033 ].Group homes are alternative to incarceration and prove beneficial tojuvenile offenders as they learn myriad skills and gain anunderstanding of their mistakes. Additionally, group homes inculcatea sense of responsibility among the juvenile offenders to avoidrecidivism.
Juvenileoffenders sometimes require a specialized care where the specialneeds for respective juveniles are taken care of in an effectivemanner. Specialized foster care is a post-adjudication therapyprogram that focuses on providing support for young delinquencieswith severe behavioral and emotional problems. In this program,juveniles are keenly monitored and supervised to ensure positivebehavioral change.
Ashelter care is a program that offers young delinquencies theopportunity to seek care for a short-term placement, typically 1-30days[ CITATION Pea14 l 1033 ].Troubled youth require extra supervision to address their problemsand ensure that they observe good social behaviors. This type ofresidential program helps the youth with emotional and behavioralproblems. Additionally, it provides shelter for homeless kids.
Societalsignificant and individual benefit of imposing sanctions orpunishments that do not involve removing his or her from theircommunity
Punishmentof criminal offenders is important because it deters crime thesociety by encouraging positive behavior. The rise in the prisonpopulation has been caused by poor methods of dealing with criminaloffenders. People deserve to be punished for their sins for them tolearn a lesson. Recidivism has become popular among inmates insociety because of the lack of appropriate criminal and justicemethods to deal with criminal offenders. On the other hand, theimposition of sanctions and punishment among criminal offenderseliminates bad behavior in the society.
Inconclusion, the federal government has increased its budget in aneffort to cater for prison constructions and maintenance.Nevertheless, the construction of more prisons and incarceratingindividuals does not solve the issue of crime in the country.Contrariwise, the imprisonment of non-violent and violent criminalsbreeds new worse behavior because of the social learning theory.Non-violent criminals will tend to imitate the behaviors of theviolent and dangerous criminals with the aim of fitting in theenvironment. Therefore, the federal government should consideralternative incarceration methods that will help the offenders andsociety, in general.
Lambie, I., & Randell, I. (2013). The impact of incarceration on juvenile offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 33 (3), 448-459.
Peak, K. J. (2014). Introduction to Criminal Justice: Practice and Process. London: SAGE Publications.
Roberts, J. V., & Hough, M. (2011). Changing Attitudes to Punishment. New York: Routledge.