Alternatives to Incarceration

1196 Words5 Pages
Valerie Hinton
It is undeniable that mass incarceration devastates families, and disproportionately affects those which are poor. When examining the crimes that bring individuals into the prison system, it is clear that there is often a pre-existing pattern of hardship, addiction, or mental illness in offenders’ lives. The children of the incarcerated are then victimized by the removal of those who care for them and a system which plants more obstacles than imaginable on the path to responsible rehabilitation. Sometimes, those returned to the community are “worse off” after a period of confinement than when they entered. For county jails, the problem of cost and recidivism are exacerbated by budgetary constraints and various state mandates. Due to the inability of incarceration to satisfy long-term criminal justice objectives and the very high expenditures associated with the sanction, policy makers at various levels of government have sought to identify appropriate alternatives(Luna-Firebaugh, 2003, p.51-66).

I. Alternatives to incarceration give courts more options. For example, it’s ridiculous that the majority of the growth in our prison populations in this country is due to slamming people in jail just because they were caught using drugs. So much of the crime on the streets of our country is drug-related--crime that would largely disappear if the massive profits brought on by drug criminalization were eliminated. You can reduce drug usage more efficiently, and at a lower cost, through treatment than through law enforcement.

A. Community Justice and Restorative Justice –Restorative justice is an alternative to traditional court processing in that it seeks to involve offenders, victims, and ...

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... offenders who were “worse off.” As a result, local criminal justice officials are encouraged to evaluate their current correctional situation in terms of organizational impetus (are key stakeholders behind the initiative?), political culture (will new programs be supported?), and prospective clientele (what type of offenders are being targeted?) to identify the most appropriate program or approach. A common approach being employed by law enforcement agencies around the country to address these questions and identify problems is the utilization of the SARA model. SARA involves:
• Scanning the social environment to identify problems;
• Analysis of the problem by collecting data or other relevant information;
• Response to the problem by developing and employing remedies; and,
• Assessment of the remedies to evaluate whether it worked(Crow & Bales, 2006, p.129).
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