Is there a better option for non-violent criminals than incarceration?
America currently houses 25% of the world's prison population. Around 63% of these prisoners are non-violent offenders (such as for drug possession). Currently, recividism rates after imprisonment are at 67.5% and prison terms for first-time non-violent convicts actually increase their chances of committing future crime. Serious crime has gone down 20% since 1980, but out prison population has grown by 400%. Is there a better alternative?
I believe so! One of our country's failings is not having rehabilitation programs for these non-violent prisoners. If we don't help them see and find another avenue in life other than crime, they will fall back into it. I have been an inner city public school teacher and let me tell you, it starts out there and some of these kids become second and third generations living their entire lives in and out of prison. If our country doesn't soon "wake-up" we are going to go down the tubes. We fail our most vulnerable members of society. We have to help them break the crime cycle.
Example: Our high school had an African-American student-athlete who won a scholarship to a Big 10 school to play football. He wasn't able to pass his proficiency tests and wasn't able to graduate from high school. He was a very talented athlete, but no matter how many tutors, study tables and help sessions we provided for him, he was unable to pass all his proficiency tests. Since he didn't graduate, he lost his football scholarship and two years later he was in prision for some crime he committed. Now, he was responsible for not breaking the law and keeping himself out of prison, but we failed him in the public schools system. He was one of the vulnerable ones who fell through the cracks and didn't make it.
I like to believe there is, there has to be, but honestly I have no idea what realistic solutions might be.
I think it's a societal issue that cannot be solved overnight, and certainly not by school systems alone...
So, what does "waking up" entail?
Very good question. In India we have a system by name "Probation System" - I am sure something similar should be in US also.
This is a govt dept and there is an assigned officer with the designation of "Probation Officer". The main job of this officer is to counsel/guide/mentor/rehabilitate first time offenders, juvenile offenders, petty crime offenders, non-habitual offenders etc. Convicts coming under probationary system are not incarcerated, rather they are supposed to meet the Probation officer every week or fortnight or month and report to him.
Convicts who can qualify for the Probation system are recommended by the concerned police officials, the Probation officer does a field inquiry about the convict and recommends to the judicial bench. In most of the cases the judicial magistrate takes the recommendation of the Probation officer and sets the convict free, albeit under the supervision of probation officer.
In 90% of cases, convicts who come under the probation system, reform themselves and mix into the mainstream. If any subsequent offense is done by the convict again he goes out of the Probation system and has to face the rule of the law.
If the police-probation officer-judicial magistrate is a good team, it helps lot of convicts to reform and join the mainstream.
I am sure something similar should be in place to give a chance to non-habitual offenders.
send them to school ... a really strict school where the pass mark is 90% and you can go home when you pass in multiple subjects or certifications required in the world today ... they will become educated and will have an opportunity to really make something out of their lives when they get out.
Yes! Absolutely. The non violent can pay fines and do community service. I think those who are non violent need some one, *anyone* to believe in them and help bring out their talents and skills. I could never understand why the ones that do the horrific things seem to get a slap on the wrist. The non violent ones seem to have to pay for their stupid mistake in judgement and for those who are violent. It doesn't make any sense. Most of the non violent crimes tend to increase with those who have not finished high school. The violent crimes seem to come from the kinds of families with physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It makes someone stop and think where we are heading in this world.
Two biggies, in terms of deterrent, are boot camps and work facilities. Many repeat offenders would have little interest in coming back to either of those.
More investment in Restorative Justice could be the way to go, and is already widely practiced. It gives all those involved in a crime the chance to give their perspective and reach a decision about what is the best way to right the wrong...
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