Alternatives to Incarceration
Recent statistics illustrate that nearly 2 million young people are being held in juvenile facilities in the United States. As such, the policymakers have vested interests in the issue and its impact on the country’s economy. This paper examines the reasons behind the quest for alternatives to incarcerating offenders in jails and prisons, current alternatives to incarceration currently used by juvenile courts, examples of such options, and the significance to individuals and society.
Young offenders across the U.S. are often subjected to intensive court and community supervision rather than being taken through formal criminal justice systems such as courts and prisons. One of the reasons behind the quest is that it gives offenders ample time to recover from any harm they may have been subjected to as well as conditions such as drug addiction or mental illness that might have led to their arrest. Besides, such alternatives are aimed at reducing the number of juvenile prisoners across the U.S. (Berman, 2013). The options also prevent additional crimes in the future and reduce the prison cost as well.
One of the alternatives to incarceration currently used by juvenile courts is home confinement or house arrest. House arrest is majorly adopted by juvenile courts both in pre and post-adjudication process to restrict the activities of the offenders within the community. House arrest force the offenders to attend work, read, and live only at home. Offenders are often obliged to maintain the court’s schedule of leaving their residences for essential activities only and for a varied length of time. They are usually monitored closely to ensure that they adhere to and comply with the conditions set by the court. The second alternative to incarceration is day and evening treatment. In this case, offenders are needed to at least attend a given treatment facility for five days a week and are allowed to go back home at night (Martin, n.d.). A third practice is group homes where the juveniles are often allowed to have extensive contact with the community. Group homes usually consist of between five to fifteen youths, and there they are allowed to attend school and do a job within the community. An example of such alternatives that have currently been put into practice by the juvenile courts is the electronic monitoring implemented in Florida. Through this program, juveniles are required to wear a tamper-resistant bracelet on their hand and carry a tracking device. This enables the juvenile justice system to closely monitor the offender’s position (Development Services Group, Inc., 2014). The second example is the AMIkids Community – Based Day Treatment Services. At the centre, the youths attend school and receive treatment intervention services, and at night they return home to their families. The third example is the Methodist Home for Children’s Value-Based Therapeutic Environment model (Development Services Group, Inc., 2014). The model focuses on teaching the juveniles about prosocial behaviours in contrast to the antisocial ones.
Alternatives to incarceration are of great benefit to both society and the individual. Individuals such as the mentally ill and drug addicts get enough time to recover from such conditions as well as other injuries they might have suffered on their journey to confinement or arrest. Alternatives to incarceration also reduce the soaring prison costs that are seen as a burden to society through the increase of taxation rates.
Alternatives to incarceration are common among juvenile courts whose focus is on reducing the number of juvenile offenders in courts as well as allowing them ample time to recover from their conditions or injuries they might have incurred in the process. Some alternatives to incarceration are home confinement or house arrest, day and evening treatment, group homes where the juveniles are often allowed to have extensive contact with the community. These alternatives are beneficial to both individuals and society.
Berman, G. (2013, July 04). Alternatives to incarceration are cutting prison numbers, costs and crime | Greg Berman. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/04/alternatives-incarceration-prison-numbers
Development Services Group, Inc. (2014). “Alternatives to Detention and Confinement.” Literature review. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/litreviews/AlternativesToDetentionandConfinement.pdf
Martin, M. (n.d.). Alternatives to Incarceration of Offenders: Part of A Series of Guides for Planning, Designing and Constructing Adult and Juvenile Correctional and Detention Facilities on Tribal Lands. Retrieved from https://www.bja.gov/Publications/AltIncarceration.pdf