According to the National Institute of Corrections NIC, the public least understands community supervision and corrections. And with roughly 5 million convicts sentenced to community corrections, it is necessary to understand the programs.
This article examines the types, goals, pros and cons, and the effectiveness of community supervision.
What is community supervision?
Community supervision (also known as community correction) refers to any initiatives that punish convicts while in the communities. Offenders sentenced to community correction programs are usually assigned to community supervision officers.
Most people in the United States use the term probation to refer to community supervision. But probation perse is just one of the many ways of community supervision.
Objectives of community sentence
The objectives of community correction are to;
- Reduce overcrowding in state and federal jails and prisons
- Helps offenders to successfully reintegrate with the community as many offenders’ experience serious reentry problem upon release. Offenders on community supervision programs are expected to have a job, housing, and maintain parental obligations. This makes the them live a responsible life and reduces the chances of reoffending.
- reduce imprisonment costs,
- reinstating of crime victims,
- assessment of the offender’s risks to public security
Types of community correction programs
Probation is the commonly used community supervision program. It involves putting a convicted offender to a conditional community monitoring for a specific time. Failure to comply with the probation terms may lead to prolongation or even nullification of the probation.
A probation officer ensures that the probationer adheres to the terms and conditions of the probation. The conditions of probation include:
- Securing a job,
- Training, and education,
- Seeking permission when leaving the probationary center,
- Keeping away from former convicts, and,
- Regularly reporting to the probation officer.
Other conditions include paying for restitution, counseling, rehabilitation, and community service.
Parole involves confining an offender for the better part of the sentence and releasing them to complete the rest of the penalty under community supervision. The board of parole decides who to grant or deny parole and sets the term for the program.
Day reporting center DRCs
Some community supervision programs require probationers to turn up for day reporting centers. However, the frequency of visitation may vary, but the offenders should report at least twice a week. Day reporting is usually a punishment for probationers who breach the terms of probation.
Drug treatment initiatives
The National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA estimates that 70% of all crimes are due to drug abuse and alcoholism. so, individuals with alcoholism and drug abuse issues are put in community-based treatment initiatives for reformation. Since addiction varies from person to person, the initiatives employed will also vary. Habitual drug users may require inpatient treatment, while seasonal users may require outpatient treatment.
Pros and cons of community correction programs
- The programs are cheaper than incarceration
- They Minimize overcrowding in jails and prisons
- Offenders can restitute crime victims
- Offenders can work and support themselves, their families and even pay taxes
- Helps in community reintegration
- The community is safer than in prison, where bullying and violence are rampant.
Community supervision programs may endanger public safety when the criminals continue with their criminal dealings. Again, the programs may lack a link to the treatment services that the offenders require.
Effectiveness of community correction programs
Several studies have shown that community supervision programs are more effective in cutting costs, reducing reoffending, and dealing with overcrowding in prisons than imprisonment. For example, in 2002, the Office of Justice Programs OJP published a report that indicated that offenders who completed their terms in either home imprisonment, work release program, or day reporting were less likely to be incarcerated than those in prisons.
Although studies that compare convicts penalized to jail or prison and those punished to community-correction programs show, the recidivism rate is slightly less for offenders sentenced in the community correction.
When prior criminal history is withheld, there is a minute overall variance in recidivism rates between the two categories. Assuming that is the situation, it seems sensible to adopt the less costly punishment alternative and spare prisons for the few picked persons who really pose a threat to the rest of the community.