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Criminal Justice and Community Corrections

Criminal Justice and Community Corrections

How has community corrections evolved since the mid-nineteenth century?

Community corrections have transformed over the years to become a critical part of the correctional system. This paper traces the evolution of the community-based corrections since the mid-nineteenth century.

Community-based corrections have become an important part of the correctional system. Paroles and probation are some of the examples of the community correction systems that are used as an alternative to the prison system. Although the history of community corrections as a component of the correctional system is known well documented, it is believed that community correctional systems began in the mid-nineteenth century as an alternative to prison brutality throughout the world. The community-based correctional systems, such as parole emerged in the mid-19th century out of the need to ensure that young offenders and juveniles are not held up in prisons.

The first ever community correction that involved probation occurred in the U.S. in 1841 when John Augustus, who was a Boston shoe cobble managed to convince the court to release a convict of drunkenness to be put into his custody instead of being sent to prison (O’Toole, 2006). Augustus’ success in convincing the court motivated him to arrange for other offenders to be released to his custody and expanded his efforts to include children convicted on minor offenses, such as stealing. In a matter of five years, he was able to offer alternative custody to more than 30 children and by 1852, more than 1100 convicts had been bailed into his care.

Augustus efforts prompted the change of law in 1869 to allow children to be placed in community correctional facilities instead of prisons. In 1878, the first probation law was passed resulting in the creation of probation facilities with salaried officers (O’Toole, 2006). Soon afterwards, the model was adopted by other US states. Since then, parole and probation have become a component of the correctional system worldwide.

In conclusion, community corrections are today a part of the correctional system. However, the history of community-based corrections is traced back to the mid-19th century when the society felt the need to provide alternative to prison for children convicted of offense with the concept originating from a Boston cobbler, John Augustus.

Community corrections – a soft option or a legitimate alternative to incarceration?

Community corrections have become common today. However, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether community corrections are just a soft option or a legitimate alternative to incarceration. This article presents reasons that make community corrections an alternative to incarceration and not a soft option.

An alternative to incarceration is any form of punishment that does not involved confining a person in prison. Community corrections are therefore a form of alternative to incarceration as they do not involve confining convicts in prisons. In most cases, however, punishments not involving jail or prison time are a burden to the offenders as they put convicts under intensive supervision by the court and the community (O’Toole, 2006). However, the mare fact that some form of punishments does not involve putting convicts behind bars does not necessarily imply that it is ‘soft on crime.’ Therefore, community corrections cannot be considered a soft option, rather a legitimate alternative to incarceration. This is because of community corrections not only help address the problem of overcrowding that characterize most prisons, but also help repair harms that victims have suffered. Additionally, community corrections are an alternative as they help in treating drug addicts, rehabilitate offenders and treat even the mentally ill persons. Besides community corrections are a legitimate alternative to incarceration as they help save taxpayers money, provide more sentencing options for courts and enhance public safety by reducing crime (O’Toole, 2006). Furthermore, community corrections have a huge public support which makes this form of correction a legitimate alternative to incarceration.

In conclusion, community corrections have become an important part of the correctional system. As described above, the fact that a community correction does not punish criminals by putting them behind bars does not necessarily make this form of punishment a ‘soft option.’ Instead community corrections are a legitimate alternative to incarceration.

What role does reintegrative shaming have in community corrections? How does it differ from stigma shaming?

Reintegrative shaming and stigmatic shaming theories are common practice in today’s justice system. This paper begins by explaining the theory of reintegrative shaming and its impact on community corrections. The paper will proceed to highlight how the theory differs with stigmatic shaming.

Reintegrative shaming is a theory is widely applicable in the justice system today. Reintegrative shaming focuses on strengthening the bond between the offender and the community (O’Toole, 2006). Integrative shaming, therefore, has a positive effect on community corrections because it provides the offenders with the opportunity to bond again with their victims, which is the main purpose of community corrections. Reintegrative shaming plays a huge role in the community corrections because it ensures that both the offender and the victim come together to deal collectively with the offense aftermath and future implications (O’Toole, 2006). Therefore, when community corrections officers are dealing with offenders, it becomes very critical for them to use integrative shaming justice model as it ensures that the offenders under supervision are brought together with their past victims, which has a positive impact.

Reintegrative shaming differs from stigmatic shaming in the sense that, whereas reintegrative shaming seeks to strengthen the bond between the offenders and the community by bringing the two together, stigmatic shaming seeks to disintegrate the bond between the community and the offenders. In other words, stigmatic shaming seeks to ruin the relationship between the offender and the community for the entire life (O’Toole, 2006). An example of stigmatic shaming is where the sticker is mounted on a bumper of a convict of drunk driving reading, «I am a drunk driver,’ or where the gate of a convict of property thief is mounted a sticker reading, “beware I am a thief.”

In conclusion, reintegrative shaming and stigmatic shaming are common practice in present day justice system. However, reintegrative has a positive impact on community corrections as it seeks to bring together the offenders and the community, unlike stigmatic shaming that seeks to ruin the bond between the community and the offenders.

Martinson is associated with the concept of “nothing works.” What is meant by this concept, where did it come from, and what affect did it have on corrections? Do you share this view?

Rehabilitation of offenders in the correctional facilities has been practiced for many years. This is despite opposition of the idea of rehabilitating offenders by some criminal justice scholars, such as Robert Martinson. This paper explain what Robert Martinson meant by “nothing works” concept, its origin and implications it has had on corrections.

The concept “nothing works” originated from Robert Martinson in 1974 when he conducted a meta-analysis that sought to investigate the efficacy of criminal rehabilitation programs from 1945 and 1967 (O’Toole, 2006). It was following these meta-analysis that Martinson coined the concept ‘nothing works’ rehabilitations does not have any effect on criminal recidivism. In other words, the concept means that any form treatments offered in the correctional facilities does not have either positive or negative effect on the rates of recidivism committed by offenders.

The concept ‘nothing works’ has certainly had negative effect on the corrections in the sense that it has discouraged correctional facilities from rehabilitating criminals because the meta-analysis by Martinson showed that such efforts are a futility as they do not have any effect on criminal recidivism.

In conclusion, ‘nothing works’ is a popular concept in criminal justice system. Coined by Martinson in 1974, the concept holds that rehabilitation efforts performed by correctional facilities do not work in either increasing or decreasing crimes in the society. As such, this has had a negative effect on the efforts put by correctional facilities in trying to rehabilitate offenders.

Urine testing reflects a coercive abstinence model of case management. What are the issues with this approach?

Coerced abstinence is a common form of rehabilitation in the justice system. This paper examines urine testing as a reflection of coercive abstinence model of case management and the issues that arise from this approach to rehabilitation.

Urine testing is the most common form of coerced abstinence in practice in the criminal justice system. Coerced abstinence refers to the form of drug rehabilitation approach which involves close monitoring of the progress made by drug addicts to ensure reduced or total stoppage of drug us (O’Toole, 2006). Urine testing involves periodic testing of the urine samples of drug users who have been paroled or put on probation to monitor their progress in stopping drug use. Those who fail in the drug tests are immediately put behind bars briefly. This approach has been seen to result in reduced rates of recidivism among addicted drug users.

Despite urine testing being a common approach to rehabilitation, the approach has many issues. Firstly, civil rights activists have often complained that forcing drug users to urine testing amounts to an infringement of their rights that is protected by the constitution (O’Toole, 2006). Secondly, the approach has been marred by ethical controversies as some people view it unethical to coerce a person to urine testing.

In conclusion, urine testing is a common form of coerced abstinence applied in the justice system. However, as described in the paper, the continued use of this approach has been condemned by a section of the society that considers it a violation of human rights while others consider the practice unethical.

On what principles are problem-solving courts based? How do they differ from mainstream community based orders?

This paper explains the principles that problem solving courts are based and highlights how problem-solving courts differ from mainstream community-based orders.

Problem-solving courts have become common worldwide. In the U.S., for example, there are over 2,500 problem-solving courts. Problem-solving courts operate on the premise that courts are responsible for resolving problems (O’Toole, 2006).

However, there are six principles on which this court system is based. The six principles include the principle of enhanced information, community engagement, collaboration, individual justice, accountability and outcomes (O’Toole, 2006). In this respect, for the problem-solving courts to perform their duties of resolving problems, the six principles must be applied.

Problem-solving courts differ from the mainstream community based orders in the sense that, whereas problem-solving courts seeks to resolve the problem at hand by punishing the offenders by imprisonment, community based orders provides offenders with a chance to stop engaging in criminal activities through parole or probation (O’Toole, 2006). Besides, community based orders gives convicts a chance to undergo treatment or be involved in vocational, educational or personal development programs so as to enable them stop engaging in criminality. Additionally, in some cases, community based orders may require a convict to perform community service, such as cleaning streets and toilets among others. This implies that community based orders are also meant to give the offenders a chance to contribute to community development and wellbeing.

In conclusion, problem-solving courts are based on six principles namely enhanced information, community engagement, collaboration, individual justice, accountability and outcomes. However, whereas problem-solving courts seek to address problem by punishing offenders harshly, mainstream community orders seek to give offenders a chance to stop their criminal behaviors.

What are the arguments for and against taking an actuarial approach to risk assessment?

Risk assessment is an important undertaking in any industry. Actuarial is one of the approaches used in assessing an individual’s risk of engaging in violent or criminality. This paper describes the arguments for and against the adoption of actuarial as an approach to risk assessment.

Actuarial method is a risk assessment technique that involves the use of statistical methods to predict risk. The approach is mainly based on information on group risk of offending gathered from a large population (O’Toole, 2006). Assessment of individual risks using actuarial method focuses mainly on the extent to which a person shares the key group characteristics, such as gender, age and criminal record.

The use of actuarial technique in assessing risk has been favored because of a number of reasons. Firstly, this approach is favored because its ability to predict risk with high degree of accuracy. Secondly, the approach is can be used to tract criminal records of an individual for a long time with consistency (O’Toole, 2006). Additionally, the method can be improved using systematic risk assessment techniques.

However, actuarial approach has been criticized on several grounds. Firstly, critics of the approach argue that the approach use generalized information from a population in assessing individual risk, which might not be accurate. Secondly, the approach is only capable of predicting risks of individuals with same characteristics with the group, thus cannot apply where the population is diverse. Additionally, the method is only capable of predicting reconviction but not seriousness or the risk or effects of reoffending (O’Toole, 2006).

In conclusion, actuarial is one of the risk assessment methods commonly used in the criminal justices system. However, as narrated, the approach has both strengths and shortcomings that must be considered when being used as a technique of assessing risk.

Risk, needs and responsivity are important principles in risk assessment and targeting interventions. Describe what is meant by these terms and why they are important in community corrections.

Risk-need-responsivity (RNR) is one of the most common models used in assessing and treating offenders. This paper explains what is meant by risk, need and responsivity and their importance in community corrections.

The RNR model is widely used in the criminal justice system to assessing and treating offenders. Risk principle implies that the level of service must be matched with the risk of the offender re-offending. The need principle holds that the criminogenic need must be assessed and targeted in the treatment (O’Toole, 2006). Lastly, the responsivity principle means that the offender’s capacity to learn during rehabilitation should be maximized through cognitive and behavioral treatment and that such treatments ought to be aligned to the offender’s motivation, learning style, strengths and abilities.

The RNR model plays a critical role in the community corrections in many ways. Firstly, the model ensures that the rehabilitation services offered at the community correction centers are matched with the offender’s risk of re-offending thereby ensuring achievement of positive results. Secondly, by understanding the criminogenic needs of offenders, this enables the community corrections to target those specific needs with the treatment to ensure achievement of optimum results (O’Toole, 2006). Additionally, the application of the responsivity principles allows the community corrections to provide the right treatment that suits their strengths, abilities and learning styles.

In conclusion, RNR is one of the most common models used in assessing and treating offenders. As described above, the model is useful in the community correctional facilities as it ensures that risks of individuals re-offending and their needs are assessed so that the right treatment is provided.


O’Toole, S. (2006). The history of Australian corrections. Sidney: UNSW Press.