Punishment Program Research Paper

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Punishment Program

This punishment program is a middle ground between incarceration and traditional probation and parole. The individuals participating in this program are released into the community, however, they are subject to very strict guidelines and conditions; failure to meet the requirements leads to a jail term in one of the state's jails to serve their sentence. The punishment program is divided into three types; house arrest, day reporting and intensive reporting. Individuals on house arrest are required to wear ankle bracelets along with a tracking device at all times, which electronically monitors their whereabouts. Any eligible individual can be placed on house arrest, however, those individuals serving mandatory D.U.I. sentences are by law, required to be on house arrest with electronic monitoring. In addition, individuals on day reporting are required to report in person to the respective I.P.P. office on a daily basis. Once at the office, all individuals are required to fill out a daily itinerary outlining all of their activities for that day so they may be checked on periodically. For intensive supervision, individuals are required to phone in on a daily basis and report in person at least twice per week.

History and Results of the Program

A growing number of inmates currently serving prison terms in most state jails led to the creation of this punishment program for drug offenders. According to past studies, there has been increasing inmate population by two-thirds since 1995 due to the rising number of violent offenders in the past few years. However, the rise in prison population is mainly influenced by drug offenders with short minimum sentences and technical parole violators.

Most prisons are operating above design capacity and though the population of inmates continues to grow, there are fewer treatment and education programs available to inmates in the state's prisons. On this note, several states have constantly tried to maintain, and even increase the number of state programs designed to help tackle recidivism. Nonetheless, the expansion of programs has not been able to keep pace with the growing prison population. On the same note, drug and property offenders serving one or two years minimum sentences are hardly in prison long enough to complete programs that address some of their most serious crime-producing needs. In addition, some of the offenders are likely to wait for the programs for a very long time especially intensive therapeutic communities, and in some situations, they are acquitted for their offenses before completing these programs.

Following such occurrences, there was a need from different quarters within the state to reform the traditional sentencing structure and guidelines by legislators, district attorneys among others. This led to the development of a new alternative for sentencing drug and property offenders with serious drug addictions; this alternative is called the Intermediate Punishment (IP) program. Based on this, the SIP program, the steps taken to create it, and how it is believed this program will reduce victimization and costs associated with recidivism are highlighted in subsequent paragraphs.

The rationale behind the SIP was formulated approximately four years ago when the Secretary of Corrections ascertained the need for establishing additional options for drug offenders serving relatively short minimum sentences in the state prisons. In this case, the first step involved conducting a comprehensive literature review of programs designed to treat offenders with serious drug addictions. There were several punishment programs that this program heavily borrows from; the Amity prison Therapeutic Community in California, the Kyle New Vision ITC prison-based Therapeutic Community in Texas and the KEY-CREST program in Delaware. These programs are similar since they share common elements, which are characteristic to successful TCs, including aftercare, coordination of prison-based and community-based treatment services and thorough inmate assessment.

The findings from these research as well as other successful programs were indicators that treatment was able to minimize the occurrence of recidivism by nearly 25% or more. In addition, research identified the best practices from the most successful drug treatment programs for offenders and began building a program based on key practices. As an example, aftercare is considered a significant factor in achieving optimum outcomes. Various prison-based programs have already had standard community-based aftercare treatment in place, but this new program carries on this tradition and even expands its scope; offenders will receive at least as much treatment in the community as they do in prison.

The draft program and legislation will be reviewed and signed-off by the Governor. The program is expected to serve 400 participants and will help the state save at least $15,000 per participant. The purpose of this program is to provide a two-year, step-down, substance abuse program for state prison bound offenders. All participants in the SIP program will have an individualized treatment plan and progress through the program is based on the assessed need and attainment of goals established for each offender. A person who fails in the program, due to misconduct or poor progress in treatment, is subject to resentencing by the court under traditional sentencing guidelines.

Criminological Theories behind the Program

There are several theories that led to the establishment of the program under Act 112 of 2004. In criminology, examining why people commit crime is very important in the ongoing debate of how crime should be handled and prevented. In this case, there are many theories that have emerged over the years, and continue to be explored, for their perception of increased criminality while criminologists seek the best solutions in ultimately reducing types and levels of crime. Highlighted below are some key theories considered during the initiative.

Rational Choice Theory

This theory upholds that people generally act in their self-interest and make decisions to commit crime after weighing the potential risks including getting caught and punished against the rewards. Most citizens thus commit crime when they become convinced that the rewards are higher than the risks involved and as such, drug addicts engage in crime to satisfy their drug habits without thinking of the slightest risks involved. This program aims at correcting such behavior via trainings to ensure drug addicts refrain from committing crime to satisfy their needs.

Social Disorganization Theory

This theory upholds that a person's physical and social environments are primarily responsible for the behavioral choices that person makes. In particular, a neighborhood that has fraying social structures is more likely to have high crime rates. Such a neighborhood may have poor schools, vacant and vandalized buildings, high unemployment, and a mix of commercial and residential property. This program aims at reducing the influence of social an physical environments on individual's criminal behavior which when left unattended is likely to result in unprecedented outcomes. This program in this regard was initiated to educate offenders on the impact of the social environment on the chances of committing crime.

Strain Theory

It is argued that most people have similar aspirations, but they do not all have the same opportunities or abilities. When people fail to achieve society's expectations through approved means such as hard work and delayed gratification, they may attempt to achieve success through crime. Failure to achieve success through means such as hard work makes individuals' become hopeless and may engage in criminal activities to justify their failures in life. According to the program, these outcomes and results may be prevented by proper education of offenders with an aim of helping them avoid temptations to commit crime. In addition, this program aims at teaching people that despite their societal positions, they still have other opportunities in life and crime should not be their preferred option for meeting life requirements.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning entails imitating another person's behavior and trends with the aim of becoming like them. In line with this, people develop motivation to commit crime and the skills to commit crime through the people they associate with. Individuals who are related to criminals as either friends or next-of-kin are prone to commit violence like their fellows. Most individuals who see criminals as wealthy and socially competent may opt to commit violence via imitation of their friends. As such, the program was established to help in reducing chances of copying criminal behavior. According to this theory, the program trains most individuals to become responsible citizens and anyone who contravenes the rules is liable to resentencing by law courts.

Social Control Theory

As highlighted in this concept, most people are likely to commit crime were it not for the controls that society places on individuals through institutions such as schools, workplaces, churches, and families. This program was thus initiated to reduce the chances of individuals committing crime since they have become aware that engaging in any criminal act warrants arrest and subsequent enrollment into crime prevention programs. Therefore, the state aimed at controlling the spread of crime by initiating a program for drug offenders who are known to commit several crimes intentionally or unintentionally.

Labeling Theory

This theory ascertains that people in power decide what acts are crimes, and the act of labeling someone a criminal is what…[continue]

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