Assignment 2: Alternatives to IncarcerationAssonia L. Sims
CRJ 180 Strayer University
Professor George Ackerman
June 10, 2018
Delinquency prevention efforts are broad -based and the impact is difficult to gauge (Juvenile Justice Reform Initiatives 1994-1996). Should juveniles who commit crimes be incarcerated or should alternative rehabilitative methods be established to correct the behavior? This paper will examine some of the underlying historical and economic reasons behind the quest for alternatives to incarcerating offenders in jails and prisons. It will also describe three alternatives to incarceration the juvenile courts currently use. Then it will discuss the significant societal and individual benefits of imposing sanctions or punishment that do not involve removing an offender from his/her family or community.
In reviewing some of the underlying historical and economic reasons behind the quest for alternatives to incarcerating offenders, The Dui Hua Foundation reported some alarming statistics. In the United States, approximately 27,000 youth are placed in secure detention centers daily and nearly 1,000,000 detentions occur in a year. Of those detained, 600,000 involve juveniles. They add that less than one-third of the juveniles are charged with violent crimes and a small bit more are only charged with minor crime such as breaking curfew, truancy of probation violations. The United States has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration at 300 per 100,000 than any other country in the world. At these rates, offenders are faced with more stringent penalties like the expense of housing them with adults, overcrowding and being abused. These are just a few of the reasons that reflect why it is important to look at alternatives to incarcerating youth in prisons or jails (Dui Hua 2008).
Not all juvenile offenders are a threat to society and simply incarcerating offenders will do nothing more than increase the chances that they will become more like the adult offenders that they are housed with and prepare them to recidivate. Some form of a rehabilitation program for those who can be rehabilitated needs to be in place to at least give them a chance to correct what can be corrected. There are numerous programs that have been developed with the end goal being to keep juveniles out of jails and prisons and what works for one may not work for another Fact is, the only thing responsible for this is the individual themselves. Yes, it can be difficult for some depending upon their personal circumstances, but the genuine desire to change needs be there.
Among the alternatives looked at are Community-based programs, group homes and in- home confinement. In Community-based programs, they are equipped to take a holistic approach to identifying the issues surrounding the behaviors as opposed to only focusing on the crime committed by the offender. This involves looking in to whether substance abuse, mental health or other special needs should be addressed and treated. One local program in particular is the SCYAP (South Carolina Youth Advocate Program) also known as the WRAP program. The WRAParound services are a needs-based organization and is the largest collection of services in SCYAP. They offer multiple therapeutic activities and treatment interventions to juvenile offenders with behavioral health and other special needs within the family home and community. Advocates provide one on one services to the offender and family with support, supervision and guidance from staff. The services have been proven to be more cost effective than incarcerating and the offender fairs better because they are able to receive the necessary treatment to address their individual underlying issues. These services cover three important areas but are not limited to 1. Behavioral modification which redirects and models appropriate behaviors and teaches the offender how to function at home and in the community. 2.Psychosocial rehabilitation which teaches the basics of what responsibility looks like along with independence and stability in living, learning, social, employment and the environment. 3. Family support which enables the family of the caregiver to serve as a knowledgeable member of the offender’s treatment. It also teaches skills to care for the offender’s mental health, behavioral health and special needs by equipping them with coping skills (SCYAP 2018).
The second alternative in current use is group homes or homes that provide behavioral health care to emotionally-disturbed youth who cannot be otherwise served in their own homes, foster homes or are in transition to return to their communities. They are more cost effective and improves public safety because of the treatment that is received. Although group home settings resemble a prison- like atmosphere because of the supervision, they are more open than being incarcerated (The Cost of Confinement 2009).
The third alternative to be addressed is in home confinement or monitoring (house arrest). This option gives an offender the opportunity to live at home with their family and allows them to attend school and their work. The monitoring process is very controlled only allowing the offender a certain amount of time out to do what is scheduled and is completed by unannounced visits from parole/probation officers and by an electronic monitoring device that is to be worn on their person.
The societal and individual benefits of imposing sanctions or punishment that do not remove the offender form the home or community are the cost. Research has shown that it cost less to offer alternatives to incarceration as opposed to just locking them away with the hope of keeping the public safer and the offender returning rehabilitated. The programs discussed lends a more supportive hand to the offender who can be rehabilitated, equips them with coping and decision- making skills that will tach them the importance of being responsible and productive members of society. Another benefit is that they are not separated from their family which can have a harmful and lasting effect.
None of the alternatives discussed are meant to have any negative impact on the juvenile or to give them the impression that they should not be held accountable for their actions, but to teach them that they can make better choices with the support of the juvenile justice system their families and the communities in which they live. They should be given another chance at a productive life and not be faced with the social stigma of being a delinquent and not being given a fair chance at an education or applying for meaningful employment.
https://duihua.org/wp/?p=2924. Retrieved June 6, 2018
homes/http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/09_05_rep_costsofconfinement_jj_ps.pdf. Retrieved June 10, 2018
https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/reform/ch2_b.html. Retrieved May 15, 2018
Regoli, R., Hewitt, J., & DeLisi, M., 2017 Delinquency in Society (Tenth Edition)
youthhomesmt.org/services/group-home-care/therapeutic-group- Retrieved June 10, 2018