Friday, August 1, 2014

Forms of Punishment in the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system is responsible for punishing offenders in a method effective enough to deter them from wanting to engage in further criminal activities. The severity of the crime and number of times the offender has been convicted of crimes generally dictate the form of punishment that the judge will sentence the convicted to. In some instances multiple types of punishment may be combined and handed down as part of one sentence.

Alternative Punishments
Alternative forms of punishments are tailored to the specific case and involve holding signs detailing the crime while standing in a conspicuous location, completing community service or participating in programs aimed at helping the convicted realize how their crime hurts themselves and society. These punishments are typically handed down to offenders committing misdemeanors and work as a deterrent to the community. Some individuals would argue these punishments focus more on humiliation of the criminal rather than punishment.

Intensive Supervision
Probation, parole, electronic monitoring and house arrest are restrictive forms of punishment typically handed out to criminals whose crimes were not severe, first time offenders, or in conjunction with incarceration to ensure the criminal does not continue to commit crimes. Probation and parole include restrictions on travel, work requirements and the offender must submit to routine check in and drug and alcohol testing. The convicted is monitored by the corrections system and if the offender commits any subsequent crimes they are incarcerated. Probationers and parolees are held accountable for their actions through restitution, fines and community service.

Incarceration includes jail for convicted criminals serving less than one year and prison systems for individuals serving more than one year consecutively for adults. The corrections system manages adult inmates for the duration of their stay for federal and state owned facilities. Some facilities are maintained by privatized corporations and contracts are obtained for prisoner upkeep. Incarceration severely limits interaction the inmate has with family and the community while seeking to promote rehabilitation to qualifying inmates. Rehabilitation while incarcerated includes education and learning programs and work training programs to enable the inmate to learn skills he can use once released to be a productive member of society.

For youth offenders incarceration includes boot camp programs and youth living facilities, often referred to as group homes. These facilities aim to retrain the youth and intervene so that continued criminal activity is deterred. Youth offenders are provided state structured education, taught valuable skills and given the opportunity to earn privileges. Youth are provided with structure and training that is often not provided in their home environments and rehabilitative efforts are made to provide the youth with life skills that will enable them to lead law abiding adult lives.

Rehabilitation is designed to help the prisoner gain a better understanding of how to function as a law abiding citizen while treating the underlying factor the caused the individual to commit the crime. Rehabilitation options include participation in alcohol and drug rehab programs or medical treatment programs. More states are creating special drug and alcohol courts specifically for the purpose of stringent rehabilitation of offenders rather than incarceration. These courts have been shown to reduce recidivism and fees associated with criminal punishment while benefiting the community and the offender.

Restitution & Fines
Restitution includes paying fines, repairing damaged property or donating time to the community or victims that have been damaged as a result of the crime. These punishments are typically afforded to criminals whose crime did not have a specific victim but rather damaged items that affect the community, business property or caused a financial loss to the victim without them incurring bodily or psychological harm. These types of crime are called victimless crimes. One example would be spray painting an overpass in which the criminal was ordered to pay for the clean up expenses. Restitution and fines are meant to be a method of reestablishing the criminals' rights as a member of the community.

Capital Punishment
The laws of the federal government and thirty-four states include provisions for capital punishment, also known as the death penalty. Capital punishment is reserved for offenders the justice system does not feel could be rehabilitated nor punished effectively for their crimes and safeguards such as required appeals are included to eliminate unnecessary use of execution methods. The safeguards also ensure that the convicted is afforded every opportunity to avoid the execution and that the judge does not unduly deliver the sentence.

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