The aim of correctional facilities is not only to punish offenders but also to help them change their attitudes and encourage them for a better life without crimes and violence. At the end of their sentence, criminals reenter the community. However, releasing offenders is a challenging task because it is necessary to make sure that the reentry will be successful, and the former inmates will not commit crimes again. In this paper, these and other issues concerning criminals’ release will be profoundly analyzed.
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Criminals are handed sentences according to the severity of committed crimes and are to be released upon completion of the assigned term of punishment. Releasing criminals is, first of all, a matter of justice. Those who proved to have recognized their offenses and behaved appropriately during imprisonment are given a chance to integrate with society and begin a new life. Economic reasons also influence the release, as the financial and human resources for keeping prisoners are limited. Moreover, overcrowded prisons are likely to become a place of increased violence and escape attempts. However, there are certain risks and challenges connected with the criminals’ reentry.
The major challenge that the criminal justice system faces is how to define criminals who are prepared for release and will successfully enter society. Preparation for releasing criminals is a complicated process that requires the attention of specialists. This decision is vital, because it may influence the future safety of communities and the post-prison life of the released person. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to assess the criminal history of offenders and gather information about their address, employment, and connection with drug and alcohol use. Further, judicial officers and jail servants analyze the likelihood of a second offense in every individual case. The behavior of a criminal during the period of imprisonment is also taken into account, as those who initiated fights or riots are more likely to recidivate (Siegel & Worrall, 2018). Finally, it is important to evaluate the psychological condition of an offender, because mentally unstable people are more dangerous to society. To sum up, the integrated evaluation of imprisoned individuals is an effective way to predict the risk of repeated offenses.
Some people argue that extended terms can be a better solution to avoid the mentioned problems. However, keeping criminals incarcerated for a long time may lead to overcrowded prisons, and consequently, to a bigger number of violent actions and riots. Certain studies also prove that long imprisonment negatively influences the overall mental health of inmates. Many of them start to suffer from psychological disorders; they become more aggressive and can commit suicide (Gavin, 2018). Medical problems, not related to psychology, are also possible to occur both during imprisonment and after release (Gavin, 2018). As a result, the researchers emphasize the importance of socialization and emotional support of the criminals, for example, during sessions with their visitors.
Certain measures are needed to help offenders reintegrate with the community and eliminate the possibility of recidivism. One of the factors influencing second offense rates is that ex-criminals are often returned to society without the necessary resources to live. Severe restrictions on their employment, movement, and other rights, may cause the desire to return to prison. Therefore, they should be provided with basic services and conditions, such as housing, healthcare, employment, and social and financial support (Polaschek et al., 2019). Access to these necessities would make the beginning of their post-release life easier.
However, even the appropriate living conditions are sometimes not enough to ensure the safety of communities. Therefore, certain restrictions, such as curfew, should be applied. The post-release behavior of criminals is carefully monitored; they are usually not allowed to interact with their victims or possible witnesses (Siegel & Worrall, 2018). It is important to mention that there are certain programs aimed at helping criminals with mental health issues, including treatment and supervision since such offenders can be a more significant threat to a community.
Criminal justice officers need to understand that even if an offender seems to be motivated to become a member of society again, it is not possible to eliminate a chance of re-offense. For example, according to recent statistics, about 9% of released prisoners commit repeated crimes within one follow-up year (Mincke et al., 2019, p. 173).
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Other numbers show that second offenses occur within a four-year follow-up period in general (Mincke et al., 2019). It is believed that sex offenders and violent criminals are more likely to be imprisoned again, and consequently, the nature of crimes should be a significant factor in the release decision.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that the judicial officers, social workers, psychologists, and other specialists need to do complicated work aimed at both assisting criminals’ reenter and ensuring the safety of the community. The responsibilities of the criminal justice system should go beyond the release decision and application of restrictions and rules in relation to the ex-inmates. Of course, the proper control is needed; however, ex-offenders should also be provided with the necessary conditions to begin a new life. Provided that this balance between restriction and permission is achieved, the released criminals would be able to integrate with society without being a threat to citizens.
Gavin, H. (2018). Criminological and forensic psychology (2nd ed.). Sage.
Mincke, C., Brutyn, D., Burssens, D., Lemonne, A., Maes, E., Renard, B., & Robert, L. (Eds.). (2019). 20 years of criminology at the NICC: A scientific journey and its perspectives. Gompel & Svacina.
Polaschek, D.L.L., Day, A., & Hollin, C.R. (Eds.). (2019). The Wiley international handbook of correctional psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
Siegel, L.J., & Worrall, J.L. (2018). Essentials of criminal justice (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.