PRISON TERM VERSUS INTERMEDIATE SANCTIONS

PRISON TERM VERSUS INTERMEDIATE SANCTIONSIntroductionThe current trends in the United States criminal justice system have revealed that there is need to deploy criminal sanctions to bridge the gap between the extremities of offender incarceration and probation. Intermediate sanctions is the most effective sentencing approach that can be used to fill the gap in the criminal justice system, which serves to effectively handle the evolving criminal trends in the United States (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997). A conventional approach that has been used is that an increase in crime translates to increased incarceration, which in turn resulted to a counterproductive paradigm that usually results cases of increased population in correctional facilities, cases of early discharge of potentially dangerous and an increase in the correctional budgets at the state and federal level. Simple probation can be used as the solution to this problem facing the criminal justice system. In aIDition, probation officers are usually overwhelmed by the number of offenders under their parole, which can potentially jeopardize public safety (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997). In most cases, probation is viewed to relieve the pressure in the already overcrowded jails, which increases the uncertainty of sentencing. From a similar perspective, corrections administered using prison sentences have the principal objective of ensuring corrections. This serves to blur the connection that exists between crime and punishment, which in turn weakens rehabilitation. Undermining rehabilitation can be argued to reduce the preventive power of the United States criminal justice system and poses significant threats to the safety of the public (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997). The main purpose of this paper is to argue for the use of intermediate sanctions over prison sentences. The paper also discusses the nine types of intermediate sanctions used in the United States criminal justice system.Intermediate sanctions are broadly defined as the interventions that are deployed with the principal objectives of reducing the gap that exists between prison sentencing and the use of simple probation in the United States criminal justice system. Intermediate sanctions provided the criminal justice programs with alternatives to use of prison sentencing in order to effectively respond to specific types of offenses. In aIDition, intermediate sanctions offer an opportunity through which the criminal justice can tailor the desired end results for given cases. Broader classification of intermediate sanctions programs can be grouped into programs that require more supervision, more rehabilitation while others are more punitive. This implies that intermediate sanctions can facilitate the establishment of a continuum of sentencing that can be deployed for the different type of offenders (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997).Intermediate sanctions programs have been used by the various states with the principal objective of reducing the high levels of overcrowding and costs associated with the correctional facilities in the United States criminal justice system. Intermediate sanctions are also adopted to ensure effective management of the high-risk criminal offenders in the larger community, attain the goal of crime reduction, greater fairness and increase the effectiveness of sentencing. There are nine types of intermediate sanctions programs used under the United States criminal justice system; they include the Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP), Fines, Community Service, Day Reporting Centers, Remote-Location Monitoring, Residential community centers, Boot Camp and Community Corrections (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997).Intermediate Sanctions have notable advantages compared to the use of prison sentence because they offer effective alternatives, reasons being that penal institutions have proven to be costly and also injurious and not effective. Research has gathered evidence to conclude that prison and jail systems does not effectively eliminate crime recidivism due to the fact that inmates usually commit similar crimes after being discharged. The United States Bureaus of Justice and Statistics report that about two thirds of inmates are likely to be arrested again in duration of three years for similar criminal counts (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997). Problems in correctional facilities such as overcrowding are effectively eliminated using intermediate sanctions by offering alternatives for misdemeanants and pretrial detainees. Intermediate sanctions are also a cost effective approach compared to the use of incarceration. In aIDition, criminal offenders that are under intermediate sanctions serve the purpose of generating income for the justice system, they also make tax contributions, compensate their victims and are constantly involved in community services, which help in cutting significant costs associated with incarceration (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997). Another advantage associated with intermediate sanctions is that they are used for promoting fairness. This mainly because intermediate sanctions can be used in meeting the requirements that are associated with the development of community services, which are proportionate, equitable and fair. For instance, it is considered unfair to use similar probationary sentences for a petty thief and a rapist. Therefore, intermediate sanctions are administered depending on the kind of crime that has been committed. Another notable advantage of intermediate sanction is that it results to increased control in the sense that they are designed to reinforce offender control in order to reduce the rates of recidivisms. Therefore, it can be summed up to conclude that intermediate sanctions are an effective approach to meet the goals and objectives of the criminal justice system compared to the use of prison sentencing. Intermediate sanctions also play an integral role in eliminating the potential problems associated with the prison sentencing, which in turn increases the effectiveness of sentencing. The following section discusses the nine types of intermediate sanctions that are united under the United States criminal justice system (Siegel, 2010).Types of intermediate sanctionsThe first type of intermediate sanctions is Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP), which entails frequent reporting to the probation officer. ISPs make use of community based initiatives to ensure that the high-risk criminal offenders are closely monitored. ISPs are usually customized to meet the target offenders in accordance with the resources at the disposal of the state, with a common characteristic being that the programs are more intensive when compared with routine supervision. Currently, there are approximately 200,000 offenders under the ISP program with caseloads comprising of about 30-50 offenders per probation officer (Caputo, 2004). Studies have reported that ISP has helped to reduce the rates of recidivism and that most criminal offenders under the program have the capacity of maintaining their employment, contribute their monthly supervision fees and make the required restitutions. Reduced rates of recidivism due to ISP also help in increasing the safety of the public (Larry, 2011).The second type of intermediate sanctions under the United States criminal justice system is the use of Drug Courts, whereby the courts are given the authority to treat, sanction and reward offenders who have committed drug crimes. The main goals of the Drug Courts intervention include reduction of the recidivism rates, reduce substance abuse and ensure the rehabilitation of the participant. Drug courts have proven to be cost effective when aIDressing non-violent drug crimes. Recent studies have reported that Drug Courts have helped in saving about USD 7-9 million on an annual basis. Currently, there are approximately 120,000 offenders that are receiving treatments in the Drug Courts on an annual basis, which in turn results to savings of at least USD 1 billion annually. In aIDition, the communities have shown to offer the support required in monitoring drug treatment administered by the Drug Court, making it one of the most effective approaches that can be used to aIDress the increasing cases of non-violent drug crime. The Drug Courts are also applicable in the juvenile justice system and have played an integral role in reducing juvenile crime associated with substance abuse. It is normally administered using treatment and court supervision of the juvenile offenders (Caputo, 2004).The third type of intermediate sanctions used in the United States criminal justice system is the use of fines, which is administered in the form of financial penalties. Fines is one of the oldest forms if punishment that is applied for minor misdemeanors (Roady, 2002). In most cases, monetary penalties are integrated with ordinary probation to reinforce the effectiveness of simple probation. Day fines are used as a form of monetary penalty that are designed in accordance with the gravity of the criminal offense and the ability of the offender to pay. This is in contrary to the fixed-sum fines. Day fines are mostly constructed basing on the daily income of the offender. The effectiveness of day fines is reinforced when used together with other forms of intermediate sanction. It can be concluded that day fines offer a perfect alternative to the incarceration of criminal offenders that pose less risk to the safety of the public. In aIDition, day fines are considered cost effective because they serve to increase the state revenue. Unit fines can also adopted basing on the weekly income of the offender (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997).The fourth type of intermediate sanction in the United States is the use of community service, which is usually implemented by subjecting the offender to unpaid working hours for the community. Community service is sometimes interchangeable with incarceration, and can be used as a strategy for reducing the high population found in the correctional facilities by subjecting minor offenders to hours in community service. Community service is also an effective rehabilitation strategy that can be used to facilitate offender integration back to the society. The philosophical view of community sentencing is that offering service to the community is more advantageous compared that the punishment (Caputo, 2004). This is because the community gains from community service and saves the costs associated with incarceration and having a paid staff to undertake the tasks. Community sentencing can also be constructed in a manner that it serves to educate the offenders on ethical behaviors that are acceptable.The fifth intermediate sanction that can be used in the US is the use of Day Reporting Centers, which is administered using a community correctional center that the offender is supposed to report to daily. Day Reporting Centers began during 1974 in England with the primary goal of diverting persistent criminal from prison (Larry, 2011). The US opened its first DRO in Hamden Count and has since been used as an effective approach for intermediate sanctions. Day Reporting Centers offers the offender with an opportunity to stay at home while being monitored and punitive measures being administered in a manner that is similar to the prison. The criminal offenders have a responsibility of reporting to a central agency on a daily basis. AIDition al services such as vocational training, treatment and jobs are offered. The primary goals of day reporting centers include a reduction of the overcrowding in correctional facilities, administering offender treatment and ensuring increased supervision to limit the offender’s liberty (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997).The sixth type of intermediate sanction that can be used is Remote-location monitoring, which makes used technology that relies on Global Positioning System (GSM) and Electronic Monitoring. The state of Florida was the first to use GPS to monitor offenders during 1997, and reported significant cost cuttings when monitoring the offenders. Remote location monitoring involves monitoring the offender while in his own residence, whereby in cases whereby the offender leaves his place of residence sends an alert to the monitoring office. Remote location monitoring is mostly used in combination with other intermediate sanction programs and treatments to be effective. This helps in ensuring public safety and helps in aIDressing the problems that the United States correctional facilities are facing (Larry, 2011).The seventh approach to intermediate sanction is to make use of Residential Community Centers, whereby the offender is given permission to leave for work. AIDitional educational and vocational programs are also issued to help in the rehabilitation of the offender. This is somewhat like a rehabilitation center that aims at encouraging the offenders to review their behaviors towards more acceptable behaviors (Hopkins & Teshadl, 1997).Correctional Boot Camp is also a form of intermediate sanctions that can be used by the United States criminal justice system to ensure offender rehabilitation. Boot camps are based on short term confinement and usually target the first time offenders who have charged with non-violent crimes. The first correctional boot camp program was done in Oklahoma and Georgia. Community corrections are also a form of intermediate sanctions that are used within the United States to guarantee offender rehabilitation. This is based on the philosophy that embodies the distribution of authority from the state to the local levels of government. Citizen involvement in the program is also vital in ensuring the effectiveness of the program. Citizens are involved in planning, designing, implementation and evaluation of the offender treatment programs. Community corrections lay emphasis on reducing the population of incarcerated people while ensuring rehabilitation (Caputo, 2004).ConclusionThe paper has identified the potential benefits associated with intermediate sanctions cover the use of prison sentences. Intermediate sanctions come in handy to establish the connection between crime and punishment in a manner that guarantees rehabilitation while being tough on the offenders. Therefore, intermediate sanctions can be used as a INSERTment to the prison terms because they ensure correction at fewer costs compared to prison sentences, facilitate greater rehabilitation using increased community contact and impose relatively less side effects for the criminal offenders. This can be implemented using Intensive Supervision Programs, Fines, Community Service, Day Reporting Centers, Remote location monitoring, Residential Community Centers, Boot Camp and Community Corrections.
ReferencesCaputo, G. (2004). Intermediate sanctions in corrections. Texas: University of North Texas Press.Hopkins, B., & Teshadl, B. (1997). Intermediate sanctions: curbing nonprofit abuse. New York: Wiley .Larry, G. (2011). Criminal Justice in Action: The Core. New York: Cengage Learning.Roady, C. (2002). Intermediate sanctions. New York: Tax Management Inc.Siegel, L. (2010). Essentials of Criminal Justice. New York: Cengage Learning.