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Community Corrections Programs

Community Corrections Programs

You have been appointed by the state supreme court administrator's office as a staff member of your state's blue ribbon committee to examine, analyze, and make recommendations for improving the state's system of community corrections. You may select either the juvenile or adult jurisdiction for your staff assignment.

You are required to construct a full continuum of community corrections programs from least to most restrictive, utilizing secure detention or jail as an intermediate sanction only. This continuum must include community corrections services, for either juvenile aftercare or adult parole, and for special populations such as substance abusers and sex offenders.

This continuum must demonstrate a best practices model that reflects the best practices models identified from examination of the programs of New Jersey and the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Florida and Tennessee of your learner colleagues and adhere to the standards established by the American Correctional Association and the American Probation and Parole Association.

Project Objectives for Community Corrections Programs Research Paper:

  • Identify the best practices model of sentencing guidelines and PSI.
  • Identify the best practices models of probation.
  • Identify the best practices models of non-secure intermediate sanctions.
  • Identify the best practices models for parole.
  • Identify the best practices models for special populations.
  • Construct a full continuum of best practices community corrections programs

What is Community Corrections?

Evaluate a states juvenile or adult system of community corrections. Qualitatively examine these practices in light of the professional standards of ACA and APPA, and their adherence to Constitutional due process guarantees. Identify programs that are not in standards or legal compliance. Make additions, deletions, and modifications in the existing system to construct a continuum of community corrections programs that utilize the best practice models from the least to most restrictive with secure detention and jail as an intermediate sanction only.

This staff report must integrate theory and research, demonstrate critical thinking, quantitatively evaluate the efficacy of programs, and be presented in a coherent academic format.

Community correction is an inclusive term that encompasses any method other than incarceration that involves supervisions of offenders that are facing conviction or have already been convicted. In this context, community corrections can include probation, parole, home confinement, electronic monitoring or the use of non-secure intermediate sanctions such as placement in a group home for substance abuse treatment. There is a wide degree of variation in the types of community corrections that are available in different jurisdictions as well as the manner in which the community corrections programs are administered. As a result, there is some difficulty in conducting empirical evaluations of the effectiveness of the different programs in order to identify the practices that are optimal for achieving the desired outcome of a reduction in the rate of recidivism.

The common factors in the community correction programs are some type of accountability for the offender and the supervisor that can measure the progress of the offender, a residential focus that is intended to reintegrate the offender into the community, some type of rehabilitative services that are tailored to the individual needs of the offender, and an expectation that the offender will remain financially self-sufficient to reduce the economic burden on the state (Kleiman, 1999). Probation is the most widely used form of community corrections, which generally requires a minimum of monthly contact with the supervising authority. Parole generally involves more intensive supervision of the offender, and often includes a wider range of rehabilitative services. The types of non-secure intermediate sanctions that are available largely depend on the jurisdiction. In general, community corrections have been successful in reducing recidivism, but the rates of recidivism remain relatively high with approximately 62% of the probation population and 58% of the parole population incurring violations of the terms of their community corrections conditions.

The use of community corrections is supported by the policies of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). The APPA believes that community corrections is a strategic method to reduce crime over the long term by providing skills to offenders that can assist them in avoiding anti-social behaviors. The APPA also supports conditional parole on the premise that offenders are more likely to cooperate with authorities if release and ability to remain in the community is conditional on good behavior. ACA policy recognizes that the use of community corrections is an important part of reintegrating offenders into the community, but must be managed with appropriate services for offenders and with the welfare of the community as having the highest priority.

For community corrections to function effectively in achieving its goals of integrating an offender into the community and reducing recidivism, the sentencing guidelines in the jurisdiction have to permit a wide range of judicial discretion. Sentencing guidelines that prescribe a narrow range of sentencing possibilities that must be followed are theoretically intended to reduce the possibility of significant deviations in sentencing that are not warranted by mitigating circumstances (Hall, 1999). Under the structure of the majority of the sentencing guidelines at both the federal and state levels, both defendants and prosecutors can appeal sentences. Sentences that fall outside the guidelines are especially prone to appeal, since one of the two parties is bound to feel aggrieved. This leads to some degree of reluctance among judges to make departures from the guidelines even when there are a large number of mitigating factors due to concern that the decision regarding sentencing will be overturned at by the appellate court.

Community corrections are more effective when they are included as a sentencing option in the guidelines, with the mitigating factors necessary to trigger the community corrections alternative to incarceration clearly delineated. While the majority of sentencing guidelines allow judicial discretion in determining whether community corrections are appropriate, in many jurisdictions a community corrections alternative requires a deviation from the guidelines, which is generally permitted when there are mitigating factors. In practice, a community corrections sentence that is not within the sentencing guidelines has the best opportunity to avoid appeal when it is approved of by the prosecution.

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