Intergovernmental Unit 7 responses 1. In my opinion, every state should offer or stress a more rehabilitative approach, not just for accomplishing justice
Intergovernmental Unit 7 responses 1. In my opinion, every state should offer or stress a more rehabilitative approach, not just for accomplishing justice, but to best serve the public, in how they currently view criminal behavior. The amount of money that has been invested in constructing and maintaining prisons, is just astounding to say the least, factoring in the overpopulation of inmates, most of them being classified as mentally ill, or even wrongly sentenced or convicted. States should embrace indeterminate sentencing, since its residents are concerned about rehabilitative and deterrence methods rather than imprisonment. The varying public perceptions of these alternatives can affect their success, mostly by having those pick and favor a side politically, but state officials, including lawyers, are usually given broad discretion, in how a guilty defendant should be reconciled or treated. The cost and benefits of rehabilitative methods vary considerably, but expenditures mostly remain at a moderate price, ranging between the tens to hundreds of billions, and the benefits are that inmates get fair, stable, and potent treatment, for their underlying disorder(s), that’s causing them to commit their crimes.
As a matter of fact, an article that compares the costs of rehabilitation and incarceration, have statisically shown the numerous distinctions. “Studies show that if even 10 to 15% of those convicted of drug-related activities were sent to rehab instead of jail, an estimated $48 billion a year could be saved, which is a 40% increase in that rate would equate to $12.9 billion in additional purchasing power for our nation,” (Lesser, 2021). The textbook also mentions the costs of some rehabilitative methods that have taken place, to secure long-term savings and results. “As of December 2011, more than 2,600 drug courts were operating across all 50 states. The National Institute of Justice researchers found evidence that the programs are successful in both reducing recidivism, or the likelihood to reoffend, and lowering long-term costs, which initiated during the Clinton administration,” (Smith & Greenblatt, 2017, p. 456). Additionally, states have to cope with decreasing federal financial support and rising crime rates in suburban and rural areas. To close off, states can conserve tremendous amounts of money, just by implementing the preferred method of housing and treatment for prisoners, which guarantees safe and proactive neighborhoods, along with selecting the best policing models that deters those from their deviant acts.
2. I think this question depends on a few factors such as the type of criminal and the level of crime they committed. Currently the U.S. has more than 2 million people in jails and prisons. That is equivalent to 1 in every 142 U.S. citizens. Of that number “between 15 and 20 percent” (Benson) are mentally ill. In the past the prison system was built around reintegration into society. The punishment fit the crime and was often handed down to make you a good enough citizen to reenter society as a functional contributing member. At a certain point that changed to a tough on crime stance. The “approach has created explosive growth in the prison population, while having at most a modest effect on crime rates.” (Benson) Prison should be a place that rehabilitates you and gets you back to a place where you can be a normal person again. Things like drug charges, mental health issues, and things of that nature should be treated not punished. Even if drug offenses alone were treated differently the population in prisons would drastically drop freeing up tons in funding that can go to schools and education which prevents drug use from the start. Rehabilitation and forms of alternative justice should be available for people that qualify and can once again contribute to society. “The average cost per person in prison ranges from about $14,000 – $70,000 a year.” (Stephens) The average 30 day stay at a rehab will cost around $20,000. I believe the cost alone of enacting rehabilitation efforts would be significantly less than what we pump into our prison systems now. The short-term costs of sending people to rehab or a mental health facility over years in prison would save countless amounts of money long term. However, I think some crimes like murder, rape and things on that level should be treated with harsh punishments. Its difficult to say where the line would be.
3. Looking at the current state of our corrections systems in New Jersey I do believe it is time to have an open and honest discussion on how to better address crime and incarceration. In the 2019 state of New Jersey fiscal analyst report into the department of corrections, they found that the average cost per inmate for the year was $50,590. With a little over 20,000 inmates currently serving time in the prison system, that is a little over 1 million dollars a year just on inmate costs. If we are looking at this issue as strictly a cost saving one we need to look at lowering our incarceration rates by instead providing more rehabilitative options to non violent criminals in the form of parole or state mandated therapy. It is understandable that the public perceptions of this rehabilitation stance might come off as, “going soft on crime”, but I believe that is due to poor education on this subject and a fear that broad application of laws might let some more violent criminals out without individual consideration first. I believe that everyone should take a hard no nonsense approach to any form of violent crime and that those individuals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but for non violent criminals a more rehabilitative approach would get them back into society and working towards fixing their underlying issues. Programs like a stronger parole system would not only save on costs but would give the state the ability to keep track of the non violent offender while mandating counseling to help the rehabilitative process. In New Jersey the state Parole Board estimates its cost per parolee at 6,181 dollars a year which is substantially less than what it would cost to keep them incarcerated. The cost savings on inmates could be redirected to providing more effectictive rehabilitation options like counseling, group homes, psychology sessions, and other more effective treatments. It might take time to start to realize the cost saving benefits that this new approach could yield, but I believe over time as there is less and less criminal recidivism, and more people getting the help they need that in the long term the cost savings could be dramatic.
4. The justice system in the United States should be rehabilitated. Offenders who commit violent crimes such as murder and rape should be the ones who are in jails and prisons. I do not believe that drug offenders should be in prison for just simply having possession. I think that varying public perceptions can affect decision making of the rehabilitation process unsuccessful because of officials feel differently on legislatures, change and results are usually postponed until finally passed. This can take years. The costs of rehabilitation for the justice system would be that people will be more likely to commit petty crimes, and the benefits would be that there will be less people incarcerated which in the long run helps state economies. It is very expensive to keep people incarcerated for long periods of time. Research shows that inprison and other correctional rehabilitation programs that are effective at reducing recidivism, whether they are education, substance use, mental health, or other types of programs which generally possess key principles that make them effective.
5. In a general sense I beileve that states should emphasize a more rehabilitative approach to providing justice. Up until the 1970’s rehabilitation was a fundamental part of prison policy. Most incarcerated individuals were able to learn some sort of trade while faced with a sentence depending on the severity of their crime. Some where even given physcological assistance in order to help them re-intergrate back into society after being released. There are almost 2 million individuals in U.S that are incarcerated and almost 5 million that are on parole or probation. It is also estimated that 15-20 percent of inmates have a mental or pyschological illness. Which is turning prisons into a sort of mental health hospital even though they really aren’t equipped to deal with such issues due to how they are main function being to imprison and punish incarcerated individuals. Obviously there are individuals who truly need to be imprisioned but there are a decent amount of those who are imprisoned for minor charges or who have mental illness that are suffering from the lack of rehabilitative measures.
Varying public perceptions can heavily impact the success of alternatives to incarceration. It completely depends on politicians and their constiuents. If an politican and their constiuents are opposed to rehabilitaive alternatives to incarceration then they will fight against bills that are meant to do so. In New Jersey there is a prison population of 21,000 and a total $1,354,764,262 and an avergae spending of $61,603 per prisoner. Where as the cost of rehabilitation for 90 days is near $2000 and as reported by an NY Times article 656 men and women entered a rehabitation program and only 5.6% ended being reimprisoned which is a rather high success rate for the study that was conducted. The short term cost for rehabilitative measures have the potential to pay off long term in savings and results. $61,000 compared to $2,000 dollars is already a huge difference in cost and if said individuals can successfully rehabilitate then they can intergrate back into society which can also pay off in the long run.