Alternatives to incarceration refer to any treatment or punishment other than jail and prison that can be given to individuals who have committed crimes. In the past few years, the number of people going to prison has significantly increased, and this has drawn the attention of the public. After the world war, penal leaders started doubting the effectiveness of keeping the offenders confined in prisons as the only correlational strategies. As a result of that, people came to realize that prisons were not the only correlational facilities that could be used to discipline the law offenders. This has led to the rise of alternatives to incarceration which have been regarded as new approaches in the correction departments. Local, federal, and state leaders are looking for various ways that can be used to improve public and safety and public health outcomes while at the same time reducing costs of corrections and criminal justice. Numerous innovative strategies such as alternatives to incarceration can be used improve public health and cut costs by keeping the offenders out of jails and prisons while at the same time ensuring safety in the communities. Some examples of alternatives to incarceration include mental illness programs, pretrial services, Drug and Alcohol Programs, specialized programs and community Service Programs. This paper seeks to present an argument concerning the efficacy of alternatives to incarceration. Thus, I take a stance that alternatives to incarceration are very useful correlational strategies rather than confining the law offenders to prisons.
A serious problem is on the rise in the United States. The number of people committing crimes is increasing day by day. As the number is increasing the number of the individuals going to prisons is also increasing. Though correlational facilities are present throughout the country, what many states do not understand is that there are many alternatives to incarceration that exist and have proven to be very effective rather than sent the law offenders to prison. Research has shown that states that have adopted the alternatives to incarceration such as the New York City have witnessed a reduction in crime rates as opposed to the states which use jails and prisons as the only correlational strategies.
According to Berman (2013), in the recent years, United States has received good news regarding the incarceration rates (Berman, 2013).The number of Americans in prison or jail is decreasing day by day. New York is an example of a city that has witnessed the reduction of the number of people getting into prison (Berman, 2013).
The proponents of alternatives to incarceration claim that they are very effective than taking the criminals to the prison because they have helped cut the crimes. As reported in the Guardian a current report from Vera Institute of Justice, the Breanna Center for Justice and the JFA Institute, the New York prison number reduced by 17% from the year 2000-2009. That is from approximately 71,000 individuals to 59,000 (Berman, 2013). Significantly, headcount in the New York City jail system also reduced by 40%, from about 22,000 in the year 1991 to about 13,200 in 2009 (Berman, 2013). Indeed, New York City is experiencing a decline in the number of people going to jail or prison. It is well documented that crime in the city is going down. For instance, in 1990, there were more than 2,400 murders whereas, in 2012, the murders were about 414 (Berman, 2013).
Many could not find answers regarding how New York City has managed to reduce incarceration rates and also reduction of crimes. The answer to this was simple. New York has turned to other alternatives to incarceration. It has realized that incarceration is not the only way to deal with the criminals. Therefore, they have linked the offenders to community restitution and also social services instead of imprisonment. For numerous years, these alternatives to incarceration have operated under the radar, working in a hostile political climate. However, the politicians have also realized the efficacy of the alternatives to incarceration and have maintained that they should be embraced rather than being scorned (Berman, 2013).
The proponents further argue that the apart from reducing the number of people going to prison, the alternatives to incarceration also cut costs. For instance, the Rockefeller drug laws reform of 2009 was enhanced by the New York Judges where they send felony offenders to the drug court and other different forms of treatment instead of subjecting them to lengthy prison sentences. Thus, the reform had a considerable impact (Berman, 2013). During the first year of real of the Rockefeller laws, New York State sent about 1,400 drug felons to treatment. New research that was carried out in the Unites States indicated that treatment referrals saved the taxpayers $5,144 per each offender (Berman, 2013).The decrease in costs was as a result of a decline in the number of people committing crimes. Besides, the community-based drug treatment was considered to be less costly than the sentences that drug felonies would have received.
Despite that the proponents of alternatives to incarceration argue that they are very effective in the reduction of crimes, there is another group that believes that they do not play any role in reducing crimes. To support this point, they give the example of a country like. Canada is a country that has adopted alternatives to incarceration. As a result of that, crime rates in the country have not reduced. Indeed, it is one of the countries with high levels of crime.
The opponents argue that it is imprisonment that reduces crime rather than the alternatives to incarceration ("Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)", 2016). However, this issue presents numerous debates between the critics and the supporters of imprisonment. The opponents of the alternative to incarceration argue that when one person is put in jail or prison, it leads to a decrease of 3% reported incidents of crimes per 100,000 people. California is an instance of a state that emphasizes on incarceration among the offenders ("Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)", 2016).The state incarcerates offenders at a high rate (400 per 100,000) individuals and the crime rate in the state has gone down. Thus, these opponents take a stance that the alternatives to incarceration are not effective in reducing crimes because offenders will commit crimes knowing that they will not receive length imprisonment and thus, the crime rates will still be high.
In summary, although the opponents of alternatives to incarceration argue that they are not effective in reducing crime rates; their efficacy outweighs that of imprisonment. Locking up offenders in prison does not have any impact in the reduction of crimes because prisons do not offer training to the offenders on how to behave after coming out of jail. Alternatives to imprison also mixing the first time offenders and the hardcore criminals and this is why they effective in reducing crime. The only solution to the reduction of crime in the societies is adopting alternatives to incarceration such as correlational services, community services, day-parole, among others. The alternatives act as the best way of dealing with offenders.
Berman, G. (2013). Alternatives to incarceration are cutting prison numbers, costs and crime. The Guardian.
Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). (2016). Ppic.org. Retrieved 10 December 2016, from http://ppic.org/main/publication_quick.asp?i=1146http://ppic.org/main/publication_quick.asp?i=1146
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