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Prisons have become more populated to an extent that the governments are overwhelmed by this big number of prisoners, hence States and the federal government have come up with a strategy trying to reduce this increase of inmates in prisons. This has led to the setup of correctional centers called Halfway houses for the inmates who are almost to be set free. This is aimed at rehabilitating the convicts who are almost to be set free and hence integrate themselves into the community. These inmates are placed at correctional centers to serve for community service and they are also guided and counseled in case of drug abuse, mental disorder, and alcoholism. The halfway houses serve as felons’ housing where they live and operate from when going for community service and return to rest.
However, with this well-intentioned idea of the development of correctional centers, halfway houses programs located in some specific neighborhoods have been facing a lot of resistance to be built in these neighborhoods. Some of the reasons cited as to why these neighborhoods resist the development of these correctional centers in their neighborhood is due to the following.
Causes for the Resistance
Social status and affluence maintenance influenced the neighborhood communities to resist the establishment of these centers. The communities at large support the development of healing halfway houses for felons because they understand the need to try and integrate the convicts into society after the completion of their conviction in jail. However, these same communities resist supporting the establishment of these correctional centers in their neighborhoods. This is much witnessed in the affluent neighborhoods because they believe these centers are supposed to be built in poor people neighborhoods since these poor people have no command and resources meaning that these poor people can not make any decision as to how they feel or view the development of these correctional centers in their neighborhood will impact them. (Cole & Smith, 2007, p.530).
The affluent Neighborhood communities believe that building of correction centers along their neighborhood will result to upraise in population around their neighborhood as most of the released convicts decide to stay or family members of the convicts decide to migrate to these areas resulting in the development of Ghettoes due to over concentration and resource scarcity.
Security concerns and aesthetics are of importance to these neighborhoods. Since offenders are people who have committed various crimes ranging from rape, murder and theft, the community fears that these people may embark on their unlawful acts, however, what kind of rehabilitation the offenders have undergone or will undergo, they still will be tempted again to commit crime again. This has caused a lot of resistance towards the establishment of these correctional centers in specific neighborhoods. The feeling that these convicts pose a security threat to them such as cases of rape, murder and theft might be rampant hence, for them it is wise or otherwise these centers to be set far away from them were security threats to their place are minimal. (Howard, 2001. Para 22-27).
These neighborhoods where the correctional centers are to be established argue that, establishment of these correctional centers in their neighborhoods results in the decline of their property value such as decline in rental rates. Since these specified neighborhoods are areas of affluent people who believe convicts are only poor people who cannot be able to live according to their living standards. However, this is perceived to be a cause of their property value decline.
Finally fear of escape of these inmates results in the resistance to the development of these correctional centers in some neighborhoods. These communities argue that most of the convicts can not change their behaviors so they prefer the inmates to be in jail rather than in correctional centers since they might escape and become more of a threat to them.
Solution to Resistance of Halfway Houses
Halfway houses program agencies need to involve the communities where they are setting up correctional centers by sensitizing them the importance of accepting the creation of these centers since it is a plain reality that these convicts are part of the society so the society needs to look for ways to try and integrate the convicts to the society after their jail term has ended. This will enable the inmates to feel that they are not neglected by the society when they leave jail which at some point they may even hit back if they realize that they are not acceptable by the society, hence downgrading the importance of the rehabilitation of the inmates as a result of rejection by the community. Thus the society or community must take a leading role and passionately involve themselves in the rehabilitation of the inmates such as volunteering and establishment-friendly liaison with felons by socializing with them and giving links to the community.
Creation of community awareness by public education of the importance of having these correctional centers in their neighborhoods as it will help these communities to understand how important these centers are not only to the felons but also to society. Through these correctional centers, the community can gain economic development through employment in these centers as personnel, increased trade of goods and services of this community since these centers will need food and infrastructure construction services from the local enterprises. (The Mayor of Monmouth, 2009, Para. 3 -13).
The community at large needs to realize that they have a role to play in the rehabilitation of the inmates. It should not be that they feel that setting up halfway houses near their neighborhoods is a threat to their security, rather a combined effort between the government and private agencies and the surrounding community. They should see themselves as stakeholders in the exercise of rehabilitating the inmates because finally these inmates when they are set free they will come back to society. Let not society make them feel that they are neglected. Hence it’s high time that the community realizes that the establishment of halfway houses in their neighborhoods does not cause any threat to their security, decline in their property value or affect their social status. Otherwise, the creation of these centers will accelerate the community’s economic development through increased trade with the community and good security since there is enough personnel to take care of the felons. Hence there is a need for public sensitization of the role the community can play in rehabilitating the inmates and removal of the community myth that halfway houses will cause more harm to these specific neighborhoods than good.
Cole, G., & Smith. C. (2007). The System of Criminal Justice. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth. Web.
Howard, J. (2001). Society of Alberta. Halfway house. Web.
The Mayor of Monmouth. (2009). New Windsor Jail Angst is an Exercise in Old News. Web.