You have graduated from the Online Campus, and now you are working for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) within the long-term planning department of private prisons. As a Private Prison Design Specialist, you have the authority to conceptualize future prisons around the prison issues of today and tomorrow, so your supervisor has turned to you to discuss some issues in a paper of 2–3 pages to be submitted for review. You have a reputation for thinking outside of the box while being realistic and because of this, your supervisor feels you can properly address alternatives to incarceration. Now you are to make the changes, as outlined below, based upon today’s resources and prison systems.
Prisons are overloaded with inmates who are incarcerated for drug offenses. What is an alternative to incarcerating them? Describe how you would handle this type of problem without incarceration, and give reasons supporting why your solution would be more cost-effective and prone to rehabilitation.
Alternatives to Incarceration
As a Private Prison Design Specialist, it is critical to come up with long-term solutions to the current congestion problems at most of the prisons in the U.S. There is an urgent need to address congestion issues at prisons through long-term planning and seeking alternatives to incarceration especially in relation with individuals who commit minor crimes. Currently, more than half of those incarcerated are due to minor offences such as drug peddling, which can be addressed through other means to avoid overloading of the prisons. This paper addresses some of the alternatives to incarceration that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) can adopt to avoid overloading of prisons.
Alternatives to Corrections
Those found guilty for various drug offences should undergo community corrections or probation. Probation occurs when the offender remains within the community but with limited freedom and under certain obligations (Phelps, 2016). A probation sentence places various restrictions or obligations on the offender during the entire probation period. For instance, the offender may be subject to random urine tests, the offender may be under house arrest, it could be mandatory to meet a probation officer on specific period, the offender may be subject to mandatory community service, or the offender may participate in a drug and substance abuse rehabilitation program. Failure to adhere to the requirements of the probation may attract heavier penalties such as strict supervision and at times serving time in prison. According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums (2011), probation costs about $9.92 per day per inmate compared to imprisonment which is more than $ 50 per day per prisoner. As such, probation is much cheaper comparing to incarceration.
Electronic Home Monitoring
Electronic home Monitoring (EHM) or house arrest refers to a sentence that requires the offender to stay in particular areas such as their homes (Pattavina, 2009). However, a house arrest sentence may allow an offender to go to some preapproved areas such as attending court sessions or work. The offender should not, under any circumstances go to unauthorized areas such as bars where he/she is likely to engage in drug use or selling. Offenders placed under EHM sentence wear electronic devices that send signals to the police department informing them of the offender’s whereabouts at all times. The offender wears the electronic device at either the hand or ankle. Offenders may take drug tests on a regular basis to ensure they remain clean during the entire period. Failure to comply with these obligations or failing a drug test can lead to severe punishment for the offender such as serving a prison sentence. According to Pattavina (2009), the average cost for an offender on EHM is between $5 and $15 per day, compared to about $80 per day for incarcerated prisoners.
Fines. This is another effective alternative to incarceration for drug offenders. In this alternative, the offender pays fines, fees, and costs incurred in court. This form of punishment is most effective while used in addition to other form of punishment such as probation (Orrick & Vieraitis, 2015). Contrary to the current system, fines should depend on the offender’s income. The current system levies fixed fines for some drug-related offences such as driving under the influence of alcohol. Such a system may be lenient to those with high incomes and on the other hand may be too high for those with relatively low incomes. As such, fines should depend on the income of the offender so that they may be effective. Fines can be effective in deterring drug-related offenses since inability to pay the fine may lead to even higher punishment such as imprisonment. Fines may be cost effective since the government does not have to spend taxpayer’s money on maintaining offenders in prison. Rather, the offenders pay the government for the costs incurred such as court costs.
Restorative justice. Restorative justice is another suitable alternative to incarceration that that Corrections Corporation of America can implement. Restorative justice is a form of punishment that entails holistic sentencing (FAMM, 2011). The main idea behind restorative justice is to bring healing to all individuals impacted by the act. In dealing with drug related offences, offenders should first undergo a mandatory therapy program or counselling. Those who fail to complete the program successfully should face severe punishment such as imprisonment for a particular period. On the other hand, those who successfully complete the program should help law enforcement officers reach out to drug addicts and other type of offenders in order to help them quit the vice. For instance, they can help fight drug abuse in schools and in community as part of their commitment to stop drug use for a particular period. Restorative justice may be cheaper to incarceration, which costs about $80 per prisoner per day. Therapy programs are effective to incarceration in helping drug addicts quit the vice. Majority of drug offenders who reenter the community face the risk of recidivism.
To conclude, there is need for alternative solutions to incarceration in order to deal with the current problem of prison overcrowding. Some of the effective alternative solutions to prison overcrowding include probation, Electronic Home Monitoring, fines, and restorative justice. These alternative methods are cheaper in terms of costs comparing with incarceration, while also providing the benefit of less overcrowding in prisons.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). (2011). Alternative to incarceration in a nutshell. Retrieved from http://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FS-Alternatives- in-a-Nutshell-7.8.pdf
Orrick, E. A., & Vieraitis, L. M. (2015). The cost of incarceration in Texas: Estimating the benefits of reducing the prison population. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(2), 399 – 415. doi:10.1007/s12103-014-9265-3
Pattavina, A. (2009). The use of Electronic Monitoring as persuasive technology: Reconsidering the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of Electronic Monitoring. Victims & Offenders, 4(4), 385 – 390. Doi:10.1080/15564880903260611
Phelps, M. S. (2016). The paradox of probation: community supervision in the age of mass incarceration (excerpted). Federal Sentencing Reporter, 28(4), 283.