Saturday, August 15, 2009

Who is Afraid of Early Releases and Non-Custodial Sentences?

Not the American public, according to a study conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. The findings are summarized as follows:

  • A majority of US adults believe that some crimes, for which offenders are currently incarcerated, do not demand time behind bars.
  • Eight in ten (77%) adults believe the most appropriate sentence for nonviolent, nonserious offenders* is supervised probation, restitution, community service, and/or rehabilitative services; if an offender fails in these alternatives, then prison or jail may be appropriate.
  • Over three-quarters (77%) believe alternatives to incarceration do not decrease public safety.
  • More than half (55%) believe alternatives to prison or jail decrease costs to state and local governments.
  • US adults more often think alternatives to incarceration are more effective than prison or jail time at reducing recidivism (45% vs. 38%).
  • Respondents cited a variety of reasons they believe justify sending fewer people to prison or jail, including expense, overcrowding (danger to guards, danger to inmates), the ability of proven alternatives to reduce crime, and the fairness of the punishment relative to the crime.

While the questions emphasized "nonviolent" and "nonsexual" offenders, and are therefore not devoid of bias, they are more specific than questions targeting "offenders" in general, which used to be the modus operandi in public polls and the like. This is very good news, and it proves the point that punitivism has not been our lot simply because "that is what the public wants". We are smarter than that.

The full study can be found here.

For a review of other studies and trends, arriving at similar conclusion (with more rigorous metrics), see our previous post on the topic.


Dinah_Bordum said...

The simple solution to satisfy all sides of this debate is to release the men and women in the state funded drug rehabs like the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, CA. They aren’t inmates; they are civil commits who chose drug rehab to keep from going to prison. Housing costs much more per year than a regular inmate because of their treatment. A 9-month substance abuse program, which upon completion, they are released. This means they all have less than a year to go anyway.
Because of overcrowding institutions such as CRC, house regular felons with the recovering addicts, a big no-no. There are no cells, the whole place is dorms like the reception area where the Chino riot started, making it much more volatile at double capacity. Chino is right next door to CRC, so relieving the pressure would be a good idea.
As to public safety being at risk by early release, it wouldn’t be an issue here. You can’t be a violent offender and be eligible for this program, eliminating the danger of prison staff clerical errors releasing dangerous predators, like Samuels, the man who killed the Burk girl. The letter “N” in their CDC number easily identifies the civil committed recovering addicts.
Finally, this wouldn’t be the early release of inmates but the discharging of patients. This eliminates the buzzword “inmate early release” used in the fear campaigns against it. If need be treatment could be continued on the outside or the program could just be shortened. (Most rehabs only last 30 days not 9 months like this one) Problem solved. Was that so hard?

Anonymous said...

The early release of inmate should not only be limited.The government
should also take into consideration what are the true reasons why these inmates went to jail / or prison. There are inmates committed crimes due to their childhood experiences or the the enviroment that they are living in. Plus the fact it make it worser if some of the correctional officers use their authorities to aggravate the feelings of these inmates that sometimes lead them to more criminal acts. In fairness to those correctional officers who's been there to perform their duties accordingly may they continue to be one. Remember these prisoners are human beings some of these people pleaded guilty to correct the things that they did. To give justification to their victims. Correctional/ rehabilatation this simply can be look at the meaning in the dictionary - simply to correct and rehab to help them to start all over again. There are a lot of programs that can be develop like making them work to boost our economy. Remember it is better to make things in order to make this world a better place to live. May the lawmakers or the authorities should put God in their hearts and minds before making any decisions or move. For what is happening in this world it is time to heal and be one for the betterment of this country and the world.