The success of the human civilization is largely attributed to the establishment of laws and the subsequent following of these laws by all the members of the society. However, it can be expected that not everyone will choose to follow the set laws out of their own free will. It is therefore necessary to impose some system to punish or reform wrong doers.
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This system is known as the criminal justice system and its major role is to deliver justice by punishing offenders and deterring people from committing crimes. Once an offender has been identified, it is the role of the system to take action to prevent the individual from engaging in criminal activities again.
This can be achieved through crime prevention strategies. This paper will analyze the various crime prevention programs and criminal rehabilitation efforts that the criminal justice system engages in.
Defining Crime Prevention
Crime prevention is one of the major goals of a good criminal justice system. To fulfil this goal, the system has various tools, including imprisonment, which can be used to prevent crime. By definition, crime prevention is the collection of activities undertaken to reduce the occurrence of criminal behavior (Mackey & Levan, 2012).
In the context of the criminal justice system, crime prevention refers to the efforts that are taken to change the behavior of actual perpetrators once they are identified in order to reduce the likelihood that they will engage in criminal activities in the future. The criminal justice system plays a crucial role in crime prevention since known offenders are likely to continue engaging in criminal behavior if no action is taken to control this.
Crime prevention programs are defined as “focused efforts to change, restrict or create a routine practice in a crime prevention setting” (MacKenzie, 2003, p.10). Crime prevention is a result that can be achieved through many means including punishment. A key characteristic of any program is that it requires additional resources. The Criminal Justice System implements a number of programs to prevent crime.
Types of Crime Prevention Programs
Shock programs have been used as a prevention tool by the criminal justice system. In this program, offenders are sent to prison for a short duration and then they serve the rest of their sentence on probation. The program tries to frighten the offender into staying away from crime by instilling uncertainty about whether he/she will be imprisoned again.
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The offender is given a taste of prison and he/she is likely to avoid behavior that might cause him/her to be sent back in. Mackey and Levan (2012) state that the prison stay shocks the offender into adopting good behavior and this reduces recidivism.
The criminal justice system offers repeat offender prevention programs for young offenders who are likely to become hardened criminals if no intervention is carried out. These programs often target juvenile first time offenders who demonstrate behavior that shows that they are at risk of becoming serious repeat offenders (Mackey & Levan, 2012).
Such behavior might include substance abuse, family problems, school problems and delinquent behavior. The programs aim to tackle the risk factors, therefore reducing the probability of reoffending. The first step in the program involves increasing supervision of the offender to ensure that he/she does not engage in risky behavior such as gang membership, stealing, or drug use.
Proactive measures such as random drug tests and surveillance are undertaken with the offender’s knowledge. In addition to this, the programs take steps to increase the social support available to the offender by linking him to community and family services. A family-centered approach is emphasized on to ensure that the individual has a good natural support system.
A successful prevention program adopted by the criminal justice system is day reporting. In this program, the offender is required to avail himself to an assigned facility every day or on some agreed on a regular basis. While at the facility, the offender is required to spend some time participating in activities such as counseling, social skills training and job training (Mackey & Levan, 2012).
The counselling services offered in this program help the offenders to deal with the psychological issues that might contribute to them re-offending. The work skills provided give the offenders the skills needed to obtain a job and therefore earn a living in a legitimate manner.
The criminal justice system also implements electronic monitoring programs to prevent crime. In this program, offenders are fitted with permanent ankle bracelets that have a radio-frequency transmitter. These bracelets transmit the location of the offender at any time and they inform the correctional authorities when he/she has moved out of the allowed geographical location (Berenji, 2014).
These programs have significant advantages as they enable the offender to continue playing an active role in the society even as he/she experiences some punishment in the form of limited movement.
Mackey and Levan (2012) observe that the offender remains rooted in his/her community where he/she is able to work, stay with his/her family and receive social services. The tracking is used to ensure that the offender attends all court-mandated sanctions such as mandatory counselling and community service.
Rehabilitation is a significant goal of the criminal justice system since it is desirable that the offenders successfully reintegrate with the larger society after imprisonment. Berenji (2014) notes that rehabilitation programs have become an important part of the criminal justice system due to the high recidivism rates.
Rehabilitation aims at increasing self-restraint, providing work skills, and educational services to offenders. This is done with the aim of decreasing the likelihood that they will re-offend once they are released from prison.
Methods of Criminal Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation considers that it is hard for most inmates to abruptly shift from the strict schedule imposed in prison to the responsibility of making their own decisions once released. Programs are therefore developed to make the transition from the life in prison to a free life less shocking for the inmate.
Gabor (2011) reveals that the criminal justice system has endorsed a number of reintegration programs that aim to reorient inmates to normal society life. Such programs involve having the offender engage in meaningful activity for up to 10 hours each day.
Most of these activities include community service where the offender gets to interact with the rest of the society (Gabor, 2011). The offenders are able to make some independent decisions while engaged in the activities and this prepares them for freedom. Such rehabilitation programs assist offenders in their transitioning back to the community.
A rehabilitation service offered by prison facilities is hosting community resource fairs within the prison. Mohr (2013) explains that this is done as part of the transitional release planning program. In the fairs, community agencies, potential employers and employment agencies are invited to the prison.
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Here they share material to aid offenders in their search for employment after they are released. The offenders are provided with information on the local community resources and they are even able to apply and obtain employment while still in prison. Mohr (2013) observes that this rehabilitation effort aids in the re-entry of inmates by ensuring that they are able to easily find employment and therefore make a living when outside the prison.
Another rehabilitation program offered by the criminal justice system aims at assisting offenders who have drug problems. Drugs contribute to criminal offenses in a number of ways. To begin with, the consumption of illegal drugs is a punishable criminal offense.
Most addicts are therefore likely to end up in correctional facilities due to their involvement with drugs. Jones (2009) reveals that drug offenders make up a significant number of incarcerated offenders in US prisons. While some of these offenders are social users, others are addicts who have developed a chemical dependency due to using the drugs for a long time.
In addition to this, drug use contributes to the increase in criminal activity. Drug users are known to engage in crime because of their altered state of mind. Others engage in criminal activities to obtain money to fund their drug habits. Rehabilitation aims at helping the offenders to overcome their drug dependency (Mohr, 2013). Offenders are offered therapy programs that help to promote personal growth and overcome drug use.
This paper set out to discuss various crime prevention programs and rehabilitation efforts used by the criminal justice system. It began by underscoring the importance of the criminal justice system in the harmonious existence and continued success of the society.
The paper has noted that crime prevention programs are aimed at ensuring that crimes are not committed by offenders in the future. These programs include increased monitoring for young offenders, day reporting and electronic monitoring.
The paper has discussed rehabilitation, which is meant to restore offenders to normal life after they have served their sentence. The paper has shown that effective rehabilitation leads to the releasing into the community individuals who are fully reformed and well equipped to lead a crime free life.
Berenji, B. (2014). Recidivism and Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders: A Carrot and Stick Evolutionary Game. PLoS ONE, 9(1), 1-13.
Gabor, T. (2011). Evidence-based crime prevention programs: A literature review.
Jones, M. (2009). Prison overcrowding: the sentencing judge as social worker. Widener Law Journal, 18(1), 491-498.
MacKenzie, D.L. (2003). Criminal justice and crime prevention.
Mackey, D., & Levan, K. (2012). Crime Prevention. NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Mohr, G. (2013). Integrated Criminal Justice Systems: Working Collaboratively to Reduce Recidivism. Corrections Today, 75(4), 28-31.