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In almost every social sphere of human interaction, individuals who often offend against the law commonly referred to as offenders or law-breakers will always be present. There is a need to rehabilitate such individuals and integrate them back to the society in order to bring about positive changes in their behavior. For instance, measures that can minimize the risk of those offenders appearance and make such individuals be accountable for their actions are essential in every society. This paper seeks to explore better ways of correctional programs accomplishment. These include methods that can be employed to minimize recidivism rates and introduction of programs practical enough to ensure that re-offenders are integrated back to the society. Different correctional strategies have been recommended to deal with rising challenges to increase effectiveness of the correction facilities. These involve training, supervision, application of technology and inculcating both the traditional and the modern correction strategies.
Apart from offenders who are on death row, or a few exceptional cases such as offenders jailed for life, there is a need to release those convicts that demonstrate qualities of good behavior. This is known in such simple terms as parole. With the increase of convicts or offenders, the need to offer parole to convicts who have served some time in jail while showing an improvement in behavior as indicated is necessary. However, parole should not be extended, without following some procedures or steps. Convicts have to undergo some reentry or integration programs prior to release since they will have to interact with the society. There is the issue of reentry programs before parole has captured the attention of public safety officials, policymakers, and community leaders (Mulmat & Burke, 2013).
In line with the above mentioned, budgetary constraints are a major concern in many correctional facilities in a number of countries. For instance, parole, reentry programs, among others are projection programs that require money. With the high number of offenders increasing on daily basis, correctional facilities are becoming overstretched financially as handling the huge number of offenders requires money. In fact, state and federal correctional centers had more than 2 million inmates in 2002, which was twice more than in the year 2001 (Buisch, 2003). Buisch further contends that as correctional facilities increase the intake of more inmates, service costs increase and in the end, states realize negative impacts in terms of budget shortfalls amongst others. With such shortfalls, a number of deteriorating effects soon accompany. For instance, tax bases drop, health care costs increase while capital gains and corporate tax profits decline. Such budgetary concerns are even worse than economic downturn as states have to apply cuts in order to deal with such situations.
According to the aforementioned, recidivism is common in many societies, and the need to reduce or eliminate it is thus crucial. Incoming inmates to an upcoming security prison will have to undergo correctional procedures to rectify their behavior. The need to incorporate both traditional and modern methods of correctional procedures will be of greater help to inmates or offenders. Traditional correctional programs are prison based in nature whereby the prison industry supports training and inmates while giving or generating funding for the correctional facility (South Carolina Department of Corrections, 2015). Modern programs, as the name suggests, are current and advanced systems meant to change incarceration from being a form of punishment to rehabilitation procedures or mechanisms.
The majority of these modern methods are intended to meet offenders’ needs as they serve their time in jail (Rushfan, 2008). By employing and training inmates while being incarcerated, they will be better equipped with necessary skills that will enable them become useful members of the society once their term in prison comes to an end.
With all the above challenges ranging from creating effective re-entry programs, financial difficulties to incorporating both traditional and modern means of corrections, it is necessary to have distinct plans to achieve the set goals. For instance, the greatest concern in introducing the new structure is creating a system that will facilitate smooth integration of offenders. Some of the recommended strategies and methods have been explained. First of all, offenders who complete their sentences need some invitation to participate in a six-month voluntary prisoner reentry program known as Project Re-Connect (Wikoff, Linhost, & Morani, 2012). Such types of programs are meant to aid former offenders on how to better reintegrate back into the society, without involving in other criminal activities. For instance, one of the major instructional curriculums includes such aspects as case management and motivational techniques.
According to Mulmat and Burke (2013), case management includes instructional programs provided both during and after release, with some intensity based on personal circumstances. This program provides active support ensuring that services rendered meet individual needs. Through employing of motivational techniques and case management, members of staff will be required to make maximum utilization of participant retention so that effective re-entry can be achieved.
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Case planning and needs assessment are also effective re-entry programs. In this plan, offenders are usually assessed at the beginning of their service time. Plans of actions are designed by the disciplinary team and the offender. At this level, general life skills, literacy training, education and criminology, just to mention a few, are put into practice, with offenders inputs being required throughout the program. Lastly, social support structures comprising of community leaders, parole officers and family members of ex-offenders and faith leaders need to meet regularly to ensure that reintegration challenges are addressed.
Training of penitentiary staff will have an impact on the efficiency of a prison system as well as having an impact on the performance of the prison system. There is a need to train staff and officers from the Division of Parole to accommodate newcomers in the prison system and on better ways of management of prison systems (Zaharia, 2009). To attain efficiency and promote human rights in a correctional facility, there will be a need to engage correctional officers in adequate training methods. Prison’s curriculum should offer a continuous training program. Through training, inadequate practices are eliminated and the best ones are adopted and implemented. Training sessions need to be accompanied with support materials such as booklets to help the staff and the officers from parole department perform their tasks better. In addition, penitentiary service has to comprise of a unit responsible for training the prison staff.
The above mentioned goals and others require financial support. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that cost-effectiveness and provision of quality services are offered constantly while reducing or maintaining the services rendered. This can be achieved by offering quality services even if the numbers increase. In addition, sound practices of running the correctional facility need to be in place. They may affect such aspects as having a mission, commitment to quality services in the facility, and sound business management practices. Quality is an emerging trend that individuals are always looking for, and by offering quality services, this aspect is achieved. However, such projections will require changes in some areas such as technology, staffing, training, management and supervision.
Technologically, costs can be reduced in a number of techniques available. For instance, there should be a periodical maintenance and tune-ups of electrical materials, plugging leaks and sealing of the products, reducing heat islands in correctional facilities parking lots, installing more efficient or tankless water heaters, and using Variable Air Valve together with heating and cooling systems, among others. In terms of lighting, for instance, costs can be significantly reduced by using fluorescent lights capable of reducing efficiency levels much lower. The use of daylight windows, skylights and Sun Tubes techniques to allow natural light into the correctional facility will reduce excessive consumption of electricity. Furthermore, the installation of occupancy and movement sensors will have a positive determinant factor in the reduction of costs.
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Automatic sensors that can detect occupied areas through infrared technology or sound sensing mechanism to either turn on or off the lights will have a significant impact on cost saving. On the other hand, the issue of staff training is of great importance to ensure effectiveness in correctional facilities. To minimize costs, training of penitentiary staff could be combined with police academy training (Zaharia, 2009). Training will have a positive result if offered by “outsiders” as they are more flexible and can respond to real training needs. Furthermore, the training curriculum has to offer the beneficiaries the possibility of obtaining both practical and theoretical skills.
There is a need for some form of theoretical introduction, practical introduction, education in theory, and final exams to evaluate the understanding of a given program. In addition, the training curricula should focus much on the work methods and principles of creating good practices rather than emphasizing exclusively on rules and regulations. The aspect of specialization has to be considered. As discussed above, the training process needs to be motivational in nature while being accompanied with other materials such as booklets and brochures. Prioritization has to be set in areas of management and supervision by employing better management and leadership skills. In addition, no means of contract renewal strategies should exist so that the person in charge tends to serve diligently within his or her period. In terms of staff or staffing, exchange programs within different sectors of the correctional facility need fostering. Staff exchange programs will equip them with nearly all the operations of the correctional facility. In addition, participation in national and international correctional facilities together with inviting visiting academicians, managers, and different program experts to share their expertise knowledge to the rest of the staff is a better way of ensuring effectiveness in future.
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Correctional techniques require the incorporation of both traditional and modern means of rectifying behavior. For the Director of Programs, the need to ensure behavior change is a goal that needs to be achieved, and with that, it is important to find different methods of ensuring such. As indicated earlier, correctional programs can be either traditional or modern. Traditional programs work in a number of ways, such as manufacturing of products, office modular systems, mattresses, picture frames, desks, and bookcases, among others. Items manufactured in prison are then sold to the state, municipal, and county offices, among others.
Traditional correctional programs can be offered in the form of services, as well. Here, inmates can perform activities such as refurbishing golf carts and courses, recycling textiles, planting tree seedlings, and repairing bridges, amongt others. In addition, other traditional forms include what is famously known as the PIE Programs. Through such programs, inmates choose to work voluntarily while acknowledging the fact that victim compensation, taxes, room, and board need to be deducted from their pay while offering their services for particular jobs they are good at. The correctional institution can, therefore, replicate such traditional correctional measures in the correctional facility that is about to house convicted felons amounting to 1000 inmates who have to stay in prison for a period not less than three years. Three years is a good period to train inmates, and when they come out, some will have totally changed their criminal behaviors.
Apart from traditional programs, there are modern programs that the correctional facility can undertake in order to meet offenders’ needs. One of the modern programs is Victim Offender Mediation (VOM), which is a dialogue between the victim and the offender meant for reconciliation or restorative justice purposes. It mainly comprises of face-to-face meeting between the parties in the presence of a qualified mediator. These meetings are meant to eliminate differences and requests of both parties. Secondly, faith-based prison programs are modern correctional programs that can be adopted in the new facility. Religious programs should be introduced in the facility to change inmates’ spiritual motivation and their behavior. Faith-based groups provide religious programming aimed at rehabilitation.
Prison education programs are also necessary in meeting offenders’ needs. The prison should try to offer some basic education to inmates in order to contribute to significant levels of reduced recidivism. In addition, conjugal visits to inmates are a necessity in the modern times. Inmates serving some period behind bars need to be allowed to have privacy and spend some time alone with their legal spouses. Even though sexual activity may take place, the main purpose of such visits is to ensure or preserve family bonds while increasing the chances of prisoner’s success for eventual return to normal ways of life out of prison.
Other modern programs that can help inmates include the Prison Contemplative Programs revolving on issues such as yoga classes and meditation, among others. Such programs are beneficial in nature as they act as stress relievers to both the staff and inmates. In addition, honor programs are modern means aimed at helping prisoners during their time in jail. These programs are meant to foster a healthy environment of respect, safety, and cooperation so that prisoners continue to fulfill their duties in peace while working on improving their behavior. Other modern correctional programs may include drug treatment in the form of therapy, or allowing pets in jail for offenders to look after them with the aim of creating or fostering some sense of responsibility in them.
Offenders are part of the community. Recidivism is an aspect that the society has to find ways of dealing with. In every society, there will always be those people who will break the law. Some offenders are mild while others are serious ones that need incarceration and rehabilitation. Prisons or correctional facilities are, therefore, a necessity to correct and improve such behaviors. However, such facilities should not act as punishment areas but places where improvement or rehabilitation takes place. This aspect will be achievable only if all the stakeholders take an interest in it. The government, public, and the private sector need to come together and seek better ways of ensuring that crimes rates are significantly reduced. Every system in the society needs to play its professional role of ensuring that crime rates are reduced as much as possible and that the offenders are assisted to become productive in the society. A society where crime is common will not realize its full potential. Fear of being robbed, mugged, killed, and raped are negative aspects that pull the society back. Therefore, finding better ways of reforming offenders is necessary in order to eliminate if not reduce significantly such behaviors.