Community corrections are used to help offenders correct their behaviors before they re-enter the communities. The centers are pivotal to the successful reintegration of the offenders in the community. Community corrections also help in reducing crimes in the future by rehabilitating the offenders. The correctional centers act as an alternative to prison. A correctional center that reduces recidivism rates can be considered as a successful facility (Wetzel, Smeal, Bucklen, & McNaughton, 2012).
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Traditionally, community corrections were meant for persons who committed nonviolent crimes, such as crimes involving the use of substances, or theft crimes. However, the centers are now admitting persons who are sentenced for violent crimes, as well as those who have a history of crimes. However, these violent criminals have to first be screened by boards. Community corrections began to gain popularity in the 1970s, where offenders who were released from prison would be given residence in what used to be called half houses (Nieto, 1996). The pilot projects for the community correction programs were established in Colorado, Oregon, and the state of Minnesota. The establishment of correctional centers across the US became more popular in the late 1980s as a way of reducing overcrowding in prisons. Today, community correction centers offer local punishment alternatives. The punishment is meant to match the crime committed (Nieto, 1996).
Historically, offenders would be taken to any correctional center, without considering the home community of the offender. However, research has shown that community correctional centers are more effective if they are located in the communities where the offenders return because the concept of “community” makes more sense. Currently, there is the use of reentry mapping, whereby returning offenders are attended to depending on the resources that are available in their local communities. Reentry maps are effective in showing where the offenders are returning and where additional correctional centers are needed. Reentry mapping holds the future to effective correctional centers (Wetzel et al., 2012). Given that the resources needed in correctional systems are finite, there is an increasing need to prioritize the highest risk offenders so that their likelihood of reoffending is reduced. Moreover, there is a need to focus on the individual needs of the offenders.
Correctional centers have the tendency of placing various categories of offenders together. This minimizes the effectiveness of the community correctional centers. Moving forward, the correctional centers are focusing on optimizing the outcomes of the offenders by categorizing offenders and subjecting them to the rules that are appropriate for each category. The ability to get the right mix of programs will be an important skill in attaining effectiveness of correctional centers in the future (Wetzel et al., 2012).
Effective community programs are mainly run with the cooperation of a local criminal justice system that supports programs for specific offenders. The justice system is made of advisory boards in the community, lawyers, and probation agents, among other players. Offenders who are in the centers because of committing nonviolent crimes undertake restitution education (Nieto, 1996).
Community correctional centers are faced with the issue of being responsive to gender issues in their management (Stevens, 2010). The needs of women in the workplace also reflect in correctional centers, thereby requiring the management boards of the correctional centers to scale up their efforts to meet the needs of the female correctional officers. An increase in the number of women in community correctional centers does not match the policies that address the needs of women criminals and the challenges that they face, such as sexual and physical abuse (Stevens, 2010).
There are new technologies that have come up to help beef up the security of correctional facilities. The right technology and its appropriate use can reduce the costs of running the correctional center. This translates to easier management and improved management of staffing costs (Schneider, Bosley, Ferguson, & Main, 2006). For instance, non-lethal, but electrified, perimeter fences are now considered in place of lethal electrified perimeters because they help in preventing the legal issues and controversies that come with lethal fences in case persons are killed while trying to escape from the facility or entering the facility without permission. With this kind of fence, there is no need to install a lot of watch towers and hire many staff to monitor the prisons. Biometric identification of prisoners and the staff helps in improving the management of the facilities. Moreover, the digital systems monitoring the activities in the correctional centers provide a log of activities that can help in improving the management of every unit in the facility (Burdett & Retford, 2003).
The treatment programs in the community correctional centers are mainly tailored for specific offenders. For instance, sex offenders undergo specialized treatment programs. Drug and substance abuse offenders also receive treatment that is tailored to address the specific problem of drug abuse. In addition to programs that target the offenders, rehabilitation institutions also have programs that target the community, as well as the victims (Schneider et al., 2006). Treatment programs become more successful if they entail educating the community about the aim of the program and developing relationships with the public, the victim, and the policy makers.
Burdett, G., & Retford, M. (2003). Technology improves security and reduces staff in two Illinois prisons. Corrections Today, 65(2), 108-109.
Nieto, M. (1996). Community correction punishments: an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent offenders. California Research Bureau. Web.
Schneider, J., Bosley, J. T., Ferguson, G., & Main, M. (2006). The challenges of sexual offense treatment programs in correctional facilities. Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 34(2), 169-196.
Stevens, K. D. (2010). Addressing gender issues among staff in community corrections. Corrections Today, 72(5), 32-35.
Wetzel, J., Smeal, S. M., Bucklen, K., & McNaughton, S. (2012). Optimizing the role of community corrections centers in reentry. Corrections Today, 74(2), 56-59.