The criminal justice system covers several parts of the operational aspects of the system including law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Each and every aspect is of utmost importance in the successful function of the criminal justice system with the most questionable approach going to the decision to focus on the punishment or rehabilitation of offenders. The correctional process is entrusted with ensuring the safety of the public, the best alternative for handling each offender, while guaranteeing fairness is served to all. Finding the balance between all of these is not the easiest thing to do and reducing crime is not simply a matter of punishment or rehabilitation.
There are many ways in which a convicted criminal can be punished and many of the punishments are based on the seriousness of the committed offense as well as the offender’s criminal history. Punishment for offenders includes restitution, probation, parole, intermediate sanctions, jails, prisons, and sometimes capital punishment. Restitution is a requirement of the courts to either pay money or provide services to victims of the crime or the community itself (Schmalleger, 2011). While paying restitution helps restore the victim’s standard of living and confidence, it is also a way for the offender to learn responsibility and consequences for their actions.
Community corrections, or program-based sanctions permitting offenders to carry out conditional supervision within the community (Schmalleger, 2011), are alternative options to punishment that do not rely on institutional sentencing. Probation, for instance, is a sentence given that allows an offenders sentence to be served under the supervision of the community. Another community-based alternative is parole. Parole is a release from prison prior to the completion of a prison sentence. Both probation and parole require that the offender meet specific criteria while living in the community such as regular meetings with a probation or parole officer and the completion of specific programs designed to treat and rehabilitate the offender. Some other requirements may also include maintaining employment, avoiding convicted criminals, and submitting to regular drug and alcohol testing. Aside from community-based sentencing is of course the traditional institutional-based punishments such as jails and prisons.
Jails and prison are confinement facilities that focus on custodial authority and control. Jails are used mainly for confinement before, during, or after criminal proceedings and are typically used for sentences that are less than a year. Prisons, on the other hand, are used for long-term confinement and are categorized as maximum, medium, or minimum security. Maximum security provides a high level of security, minimal association with other inmates, and minimal freedom to access programs and treatment (Schmalleger, 2011). Also according to Schmalleger, medium security allows more...