obviously, i do not believe that perpetrators of non-violent crimes are to go unpunished.
on the contrary, i believe that all criminals should be justly punished for their crimes against society.
however, due to the problems of overcrowding facing the prison systems today, many prisoners of petty crimes, after serving a jail sentence, where they are exposed to and often unsupervised in the presence of more serious criminals, actually go on to to commit more dangerous crimes themselves.
according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1990 and 2001, people in state correctional facilities in the U.S. increased by a total of 309%. the largest category, accounting for more than half of the increase, at 59%, were for violent crimes. a fifth of all offenders (20.4%), were serving for drug offenses, 19.3% were serving for property crimes and, the remaining 10.9% of prisoners had been convicted for public order offenses.
at the end of 2005, a staggering 1 in every 32 adults, resident to the U.S. were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole. the total expenditure for state correctional facilities rose in 2001 by 145%, to 38.2 billion in FY, and prison expenditure increased by 150% to 29.5 billion.
at midyear 2006, jail facilities were occupied by 94% of the rated capacity, and it is still increasing.
therefore,it will not be long before we have no choice but to keep some criminals within the community. however, if we do not re-evaluate this process now, we will end up with the more serious and possibly violent criminals on our streets.
it is true, that to deter criminals from repeating their crimes, that they must be punished, justice must be served. but, there ar plenty of areas within the community that could benefit from their efforts.
they could sort out rubbish to decrease the amount of non-biodegradable rubbish sent to landfills. they could help in the rebuilding process of areas hit by natural disasters, such as New Orleans, Florida or more recently Minneapolis etc.
Perhaps they could scrape chewing gum from our side walks, or shop for the elderly and infirm.
i don’t mean to sound blasai or make light of the severity of the problem, but it is something which we could easily change, and all benefit from.
there are already electronic tag transmitter systems in place, that even alert prison computers if they have been tampered with, partner this with a curfew order, so that during times where the public are more vulnerable, such as at night, in the dark, the offenders have to stay in their homes.
i personally, would also like to see clothing being worn by the offender, while they are working off their public service. such as a t-shirt or jacket informing the public that that person is an offender, and for what crime they are serving their sentence. part of a shame tactic to discourage that person from re-offending.
in a study by the home office in the UK, they found that of the tagged curfewee’s, only 5% were recalled to prison, mainly for breach of the curfew. but a quarter of the recalls were due to a change in circumstances. breaches of curfew fell into four main categories, 1. equipment failure 2. psychological issues 3. domestic or housing issues 4. lifestyle.
to qualify for tagging, prisoners must be on short-term sentences of between three months to four years and not have convictions for violence or sexual offenses.
37% of prisoners said the chance of being put on the scheme positively affected their behavior in prison, and the scheme was said to have saved the prison service 36 million.
the issues that we have to deal with, are preventing crime from taking place, and importantly, preventing criminals from re-offending. with figures showing that more than 7 out of 10 prisoners re-offend within 4 years of being released, we must endeavor to change this pattern of behavior. is prison really the best place for people to serve out their sentences?
perhaps we could start by tagging and therefore supervising certain offenders as they come back into the community, and it might give us all more confidence in our communities if we know that offenders were being monitored within them.