Corrections and Courts Collaboration with Human Services Trend Evaluation
Write a paper in which you research and identify past, present, and future trends pertaining to the development and operation of institutional and community based human services.
Identify and explain current and future issues facing correctional and court administrators in addressing and managing potential human service needs. At minimum, your paper should identify issues of age, gender, and mental health.
Collaboration of Human Services and Criminal Justice System
The fundamental goal of the criminal justice system is to ensure public safety and provide justice. The courts and correction system ensure that offenders reform their behavior and that their chances of reoffending in the future are low. States approach sentencing and corrections by using the traditional methods of rehabilitation and incapacitation. A more contemporary approach is the evidence based strategy that aims at reducing recidivism making sure that the offenders are sensitive to the costs of correction, accountable and reduce crime and victimization. The purpose of the bipartisan NCSL group is to provide state law makers with a broad and balanced guideline as they make budgetary decisions review and enact policies that affect public safety, allocation of resources in the corrections facilities and management of offenders. Human services has been a safety net for the community by offering services such as counseling, job training, substance abuse prevention and vocational rehabilitation among others. They provide referral services, give hope to people who are facing tough times and advocate for change in the communities. Human services play a big role in the communities by helping those in the criminal justice system especially those with mental illnesses (Health and Human Services, 2016).
Past, present and future trends
Before the 1920s the human services were known as relief or charity. During those times, there were minimal collaborations between the courts and correction system and the human services. Since the inception of the mandatory sentencing laws, the prisons in the United States have been overcrowded. These laws meant that the number of inmates would increase and so would their stays. The fact that the sentencing was mandatory meant that no consideration was given to the mental health of the offenders. For a long time, prisons were primarily meant for punishment and in most cases solitary confinement was used. The well being of the offenders was not given a lot of thought. The society expected the prisons to be places where offenders were punished but not rehabilitated which explains how the institutions were run. However, it was noted in recent years that punishment without the inclusion of rehabilitation increased the chances of recidivism. Thus, people started to change their perception about the purpose of prisons and rehabilitation became a priority.
First and foremost, the problem of overcrowding in prisons had to be addressed. Community based were programs were implemented and they played a major role in ensuring that rehabilitation was incorporated in the criminal justice system since it was giving hope to the offenders and helping them adopt a positive attitude. The programs have been so helpful in ensuring that the offenders are integrated back to the society and they can lead productive lives. As human services continue to evolve, their impact in the society speaks volumes about their effectiveness. They have been a source of empowerment to the inmates by helping them seek treatment, reform and continue to support them while transitioning from prisons to the communities.
As the population of mentally ill offenders in prisons increased, it became more apparent that a prison was not a suitable place for such individuals. Their most basic need was individualized care and treatment and thus prisons were hurting them more than they were helping them. They were serving long sentences because they were always in trouble or they would be released only to be brought back to prison again. Prisons did not have the tools that mentally ill offenders required in order to change their lives and make the future bright again. As a result, the human services at the community level came up with programs to offer help to these individuals.
In the late 1960s, social services and mental health workers designed case management techniques, a service delivery strategy that would address the different needs of the criminal justice populations. The approach has been adopted by jurisdictions all over the country. Case management strategies were widely used to help offenders with issues of substance abuse, anger, mental illnesses among others. This approach has been effective in reducing recidivism and helping offenders with these issues get back to the society and be productive citizens. Some of the issues addressed by human service providers include joblessness and homelessness which are key factors which might have caused the offenders to have criminal behavior in the first place. Human service providers are trained and can adapt to working in an environment where there are different needs for every case. As a way of reducing the population in prisons, majority of the case management services can be supervised to offenders in probation. Human services link up the offenders with programs and mental health services in their communities upon their release.
Mental Illness, US Prisons and Human Rights unanimously agree that prisons are not for the mentally ill, yet there are many such cases in prisons today. Most citizens suffering from untreated mental illnesses end up in the criminal justice system. A huge number of prisoners are suffering from different illnesses which require special attention. Since prisons are meant to enforce behavior change rather than providing treatment to offenders, it ends up causing more harm. However, things have been changing and most incarcerated individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues have received treatment due to the collaboration between the criminal justice system and human services. Through case management most offenders have been able to recover and become productive and independent members of the society. However, the treatment programs are so expensive and thus put budgetary strain on the criminal justice system. Although there is a lot that has been achieved through the programs, mental health and social workers continue to face challenges such as not having the right facilities, huge caseloads and institutional cultures that are not keen on offering mental health services to offenders (Healey, 1999).
The major ethical challenge that social workers face is deciding where to put the balance between the needs of the offenders and those of the judiciary. The social workers are supposed to deliver policies, reforms and procedures required in order to provide services to children, juveniles, adults and victims. The policies may differ from the laws that govern the criminal justice system which might bring friction between the two bodies. As much as the human services programs are meant to help the offenders get better, they seem to overshadow sentencing laws. In some cases, alcohol and substance abusers go through the treatment and after being declared clean, they go back to the their old behavior which means that so much resources are wasted in the program. However, it has been observed that most offenders actually get better and lead productive lives after their release.
The criminal justice system recognizes the needs of minors which has increased the demand for human services for that population. The rising juvenile criminal rates are caused by factors such as poverty, peer pressure, disparities, culture, and family composition among others such factors have led the court and correction system to collaborate with human services as a way to reduce the rate of crime among minors. The juvenile cases processed by the courts in the United States are about 1 million annually. While some minors are taken from the criminal justice system to community based service providers, others are taken from the children courts to criminal courts where they are prosecuted as adults. Juvenile aftercare services involve family members as well as the community. Research shows that approximately seventy percent of female detainees and sixty percent of male prisoners not only have a conduct disorder but also mental disorders. In addition, about half of them have more than one disorder (Abram et al., 2015).
By 2014, the National Institute of Corrections indicated that state and federal prisons had 246,000 inmates who were aged 50 and above, out of the 2.3 million adults. As a result, ensuring that this population enjoys a good health care is a big challenge for the criminal justice system. The United States spends a total of $16 billion dollars annually to cater for the healthcare costs of this growing population (Vestal, 2014). Since prisons are not suitable for nursing the elderly, some states are building nursing facilities in prisons as a way of solving the problem. However, this is a very expensive undertaking. In order to lessen the financial constraints, the corrections system can incorporate human services at the community level to take care of non violent offenders. The old non violent offenders can be released and be monitored through community programs.
In conclusion, the growth of community services has continued to strengthen the criminal justice system. Rehabilitation of offenders has been more effective than punishment. Human services have been able to provide treatment for offenders who have mental illnesses, substance abuse and anger issues. Public safety has been enforced since the offenders are released when they reform, and attain sobriety. The major goal is to ensure that the offenders become productive members of the society with less or no chances of reoffending.
Vestal, C. (2014). For Aging Inmates, Care Outside Prison Walls. Pewtrusts.org. Retrieved 18 November 2016, from http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/08/12/for-aging-inmates-care-outside-prison-walls
Abram, K., Paskar, L., Washburn, J., Teplin, L., Zwecker, N., & Azores-Gococo, N. (2015). Perceived Barriers to Mental Health Services Among Detained Youth. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved 18 November 2016, from https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/248522.pdf
Healey, K. (1999). Case Management in the Criminal Justice System. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved 18 November 2016, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/173409.pdf
Health and Human Services. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.att.com/Common/files/pdf/npower_health_and_human_services.pdf