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What does the California probation subsidy program tell us about the interdependence of various elements of corrections?Do you think that intermediate sanctions are acceptable to the general public in the current political climate?Post in depth (3-4 paragraph) APA cited posts with in text/reference list (Quality is key)(APPLY THE BOOK AND AT LEAST ONE OUTSIDE SCHOLARLY SOURCE, CITING (IN TEXT AND REFERENCE LIST) AND PARAPHRASES AS WELL AS THE RESEARCH)Chapter 9 from the book is the uploaded filePlease make sure that what you write uses the critical thinkingprocess. Make sure what is written doesn’t just address peripheral issues butuses analysis and creative thought. Don’t just recite facts/textual informationbut be sure to also address the issues being questioned with analysis and creative thought. Make sure what iswritten is articulate/understandable and free from errors in grammar,punctuation and/or usage.
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Chapter 9
Clear, Todd R.; Reisig, Michael D.; Cole, George F.. American Corrections. Cengage
Learning. Kindle Edition.
STEPHANIE GEORGE just sat there as she heard the judge impose a life sen- tence.
Her boyfriend was a drug dealer and had kept a lockbox in her attic stashed with a
half-kilogram of drugs. She claimed she did not know what the lockbox contained,
but her claim was not credible. Evidence suggested that she was a bit player in her
boyfriend’s drug career—she used some, she sold some, but she was by no means a
kingpin. The judge knew all this. Nonetheless, she was being sentenced to a life
term. The law required it; the judge had no choice. Stephanie George was 27 years
old. Later, she would say, “I remember my mom crying and asking the Lord, ‘Why?’
Sometimes I still can’t believe it could happen in America.”1 To many of us, a life
sentence for a boyfriend’s drug business seems completely out of line with justice.
We might think a person deserves some time in jail or prison, or maybe a highquality drug treatment program. But life behind bars? It seems preposterous. These
sentencing policies came about in 1997, at a time when most of the nation believed
that crime had gotten out of hand and nothing but the most severe penalties would
bring us back to a better situation. Stiff new laws were passed, and judges’ hands
were tied to make them impose penalties that many of them thought unfair. In April
2014, President Obama granted George a commutation, or early release from prison.
Today, these sentences seem not only extreme—they seem fiscally outrageous. If
George had lived to be 70 in prison, we would have spent more than $2 million on
her imprisonment. She would have wasted her life, and it is hard to imagine that the
country would have been better off. Isn’t there a better option than prison?
Something more severe than regular probation but something that would make
more fiscal and human sense than this? This is the question surrounding the
national conversation about “intermediate sanctions”: Isn’t there some way of
punishing people who break the law but are not dangerous, a way that is less costly
than prison and maybe more effective?
Intermediate Sanctions in Corrections Prison is expensive, no doubt about it. More
than $60 billion is spent on corrections each year. Over 90 percent of that goes to
pay for incarceration, even though more than two-thirds of people under
correctional authority are under community supervision. A year behind bars costs
25 to 50 times as much as a year on probation. In many states the correctional
budget exceeds the higher-education budget. Years of growth in prison expenditures
have often been matched by an equivalent drop in education dollars. More and
more, policy makers look at the prison budget and wonder if there is a less
expensive way to carry out punishments. Especially in times when state-level
revenues are tight and governors face the possibility of having to cut popular health
and education programs, prison costs come under scrutiny.2 Undeniably, prison
costs more than probation because it provides total control over a person’s life in a
way probation cannot. For this reason, people who want to save money by doing
something less expensive than prison have been uneasy with probation as the only
alternative. As Norval Morris and Michael Tonry have noted, “Prison is used
excessively; probation is used even more excessively; between the two is a near
vacuum of purposive and enforced punishments.3 Judges know that prison is often
too much and probation is just as often not enough. For the first-time offender
whose crime is nonviolent and who has solid links to the community such as a good
job, judges generally feel comfortable with a probation term. But the truly firsttime,
nonviolent felon is unusual. Much more commonly, a felony conviction is not the
defendant’s first crime. Too often, probation or some other sanction has been tried
before, and the person has ended up in trouble again. Just as often, the crime is
serious but not alarming: For instance, the person was caught once again using
drugs (or was implicated in another theft or was caught with an illegal handgun or
got drunk and got in a fight). What good would another term of probation do? What
message would it send? Yet just as clearly, a prison term makes little sense. The 24
months or so of a typical sentence will require $50,000 or more from the taxpayer;
this seems expensive in view of the minor costs of the crime itself.4 Further, people
who go to prison do not have better prospects of making it than do people who
remain in the community. There are other considerations. Most defendants have
dependents—a spouse and children— and what will happen to them when the
person goes to prison? Increasingly, research shows that children and families
suffer many hardships, ranging from financial to psychological, when a loved one
goes to prison.5 One of those hardships costs everyone in the long run: In the United
States, children of people who go to prison are more likely than others to end up in
trouble with the law and eventually land in prison themselves.6 And what about the
victims? They always seem to want the toughest penalty the law provides, but
sending offenders to prison will gain them little. Too many victims leave court
feeling alienated from justice, whatever the sentence. Further, they all face the uphill
battle of recovering from the emotional and practical costs of crime, a battle that the
sentence does little to help. At least probationers can be ordered to pay restitution.
With probation officers’ caseloads exceeding 100, though, what can one realistically
expect? Finally, many types of nonprison sentences seem to lead to lower recidivism
rates.7 Perhaps going to prison makes people less likely to obey the law, or staying
in the community makes adjustment to a law-abiding life easier. But if the idea is to
help people turn their lives around, in most cases the judge has far better choices
than sending them to prison. For all of these reasons, our society benefits from
choices that fall between probation and prison—intermediate sanctions that are
more exacting than probation but less costly and with fewer collateral consequences
than prison. In this chapter we present and analyze nonprobation programs
designed to keep offenders in local community corrections instead of prisons.
The Case for Intermediate Sanctions The enormous cost of incarceration is a
powerful practical argument for community-based alternatives. But there are other
reasons that we need a range of correctional strategies between probation and
imprisonment, including these: (1) imprisonment is too restrictive for many
offenders, (2) traditional probation does not work with most offenders, and (3)
justice is well served by having options in between. In the following sections we
explore these arguments in more detail. Unnecessary Imprisonment Americans have
traditionally tended to equate prison with punishment. When someone is sentenced
to something other than prison, many people suspect that the offender “got off ”;
when an offender receives a short prison sentence, many think he or she “got a
break.” Yet to treat prison as the primary means of punishment is wrong on two
grounds. First, most sanctions in Western democracies do not involve
imprisonment. In the United States, probation is the most common sanction: For
every offender in prison or jail, three are on probation or parole. In Europe this is
even more evident. Germany, for example, imposes fines as a sole sanction on twothirds of its property offenders; in England, the figure approaches half. Community
service is the preferred sanction for most property offenders in England. Further,
Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Austria—and virtually every other European
common market country—use such sanctions far more than incarceration. Because
nonprison sanctions are a worldwide phenomenon, it makes little sense to think of
them as lack of punishment. Second, prison is simply not effective in most cases. We
expect prison to teach the offender something and deter him or her from a life of
crime, but evidence speaks to the contrary. A host of recent studies now show that
people who go to prison do worse after their release than they would have done
under a sentence to a community penalty.8 Along these lines, public sentiment
about nonprison punishment appears to be changing. A recent national survey
sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts found strong public support for reducing
the prison population (see Figure 9.1). If prison is neither the most common nor the
most effective sanction, why does it dominate our thinking on punishment? Perhaps
it is time to recognize that corrections can and should develop nonincarcerative
sanctions that fill the gap between prison and probation. Limitations of Probation As
we mentioned in Chapter 8, probation may not work with serious offenders.
Because probation officers handle 100 or more offenders at a time, the average
probationer gets maybe 15 minutes of contact per week—hardly meaningful
supervision. Further, in many cases this supervision does not really address the
offender’s problems. The probation officer may check the person’s pay stubs and
test for drug use. But in the limited time available, little may happen to help the
probationer achieve a change in lifestyle. Intermediate sanctions can improve
traditional probation supervision in two ways. First, they can intensify supervision.
Second, they can provide specialized programs better suited to the offender’s needs.
Improvements in Justice Judges sometimes complain that their sentencing choices
are limited. They confront offenders whose crimes do not warrant prison but for
whom probation seems inadequate. Developing an array of sanctions between these
two extremes lets judges better match the sentence to the crime. Similarly, when an
offender breaks probation or parole rules, some response is needed to maintain the
credibility of the rules. However, sending the violator to prison for behavior that is
not otherwise criminal seems unwarranted. Finally, intermediate sanctions allow a
closer tailoring of the punishment to the offender’s situation. For many offenders, a
fine is adequate punishment. Others may be required to complete a drug treatment
program. Still others can be confined to home for a while. In sum, intermediate
sanctions, tailored to fit the offender’s circumstances, may provide the greatest
justice for many. This may be one reason why public opinion surveys so consistently
find support for intermediate sanctions as alternatives to prison and traditional
probation. Continuum of Sanctions Intermediate sanctions fit the concept of the
continuum of sanctions—a range of punishments that vary in intrusiveness and
control, as shown in Figure 9.2. Probation plus a fine or community service may be
appropriate for minor offenses, whereas six weeks of boot camp followed by
intensive probation supervision may be right for serious crimes. The continuum-ofsanctions concept also incorporates a range of correctional management strategies
that vary in intrusiveness and control. Offenders are initially assigned to a level of
control, depending on the seriousness of their offense and their prior record. They
may then move to a less or a more restrictive level, depending on how well they do
at each level. For example, a person might start with a 7:00 p.m. curfew, a
community service obligation, and mandatory treatment programs on the
weekends. If those restrictions are satisfactorily met for six months, the person
might have the curfew rescinded. Many jurisdictions have developed a continuum of
sanctions, and its advantages now seem plain. First, it increases the corrections
system’s flexibility. As jails and prisons become more crowded, selected offenders
can be moved to less restrictive options, such as work release programs. Second, it
allows more responsive management of individual offenders. Thus, if a person on
regular probation is not reporting, a brief home confinement can be followed by a
return to probation. Finally, it costs less than other alternatives. Both state and
county agencies can benefit from using a continuum of sanctions. Further, this
approach can be either codified into law or operated as a practice agreed to by the
various correctional agencies. For instance, in Maricopa County, Arizona, the
combined resources of multiple agencies—the jail, treatment centers, and
probation—are used to develop the punishment system along a continuum of
sanctions. This meets the same aims as the state of Delaware’s sentencing
accountability system, but it is neither a part of penal law nor operated by a single
state agency.
Problems with Intermediate Sanctions Despite the growing range of available
alternatives to incarceration and parole, all is not well with the intermediate
sanctions movement. Problems arise in selecting which agencies will operate the
process and which offenders receive the sanctions. Further, intermediate sanctions
often inappropriately “widen the net.” Selecting Agencies Administrators of such
traditional correctional agencies as jails, prisons, probation, and parole often argue
that they should also administer intermediate sanctions. They claim to have the staff
and the experience to design new programs for special offender subgroups, and they
suggest that to maintain program coherence, they ought to operate all correctional
processes. Critics counter that because traditional correctional organizations must
give highest priority to traditional operations, they cannot adequately support
midrange alternatives. Therefore, new agencies, both public and private, should run
intermediate programs. Others believe that intermediate sanctions programs will
inevitably be controlled by the probation and prison systems— especially because
these systems need intermediate sanctions to resolve swollen caseloads and
overcrowded facilities. Selecting Offenders A second issue has to do with selecting
appropriate offenders for alternative programs. One school of thought emphasizes
selection by seriousness of offense; the other concentrates on the offender’s
problems. A focus on the offense usually eliminates some crime categories from
consideration. Many argue that violent or drug-marketing offenses are so abhorrent
that a nonincarcerative program is not appropriate. Yet these offenders are often
best able to adjust to these programs. Moreover, to the degree that these programs
are needed to reduce prison overcrowding, they must include some serious
offenders. In practice, both the crime and the criminal are considered. Certain
offenses are so serious that the public will not tolerate intermediate punishments
for them (even though there are many instances of successful community-based
control of murderers and other serious offenders). At the same time, judges want
programs to respond to the needs of the offenders they sentence. Underlying this
issue is the thorny problem of stakes. Most of us would be willing to bet $1 on a 1in-10 chance of winning $10, yet few of us would be willing to bet $1,000 on a 1-in10 chance of winning $10,000. The odds are the same, but we stand to lose so much
more in the second case. Similarly, intermediate sanctions programs are often
unwilling to accept offenders convicted of serious crimes, particularly violent
crimes, even though the chances of the offenders’ successfully completing a program
may be quite good. If those offenders commit additional serious crimes, the damage
to the community and—through negative publicity—to the corrections system can
be substantial. With some offenders the stakes are simply too high, regardless of the
amount of risk. Widening the Net A third major problem with selecting offenders for
intermediate sanctions is widening the net (see Chapter 7). In some ways this
problem is potentially the most damaging because it strikes at the very core of the
intermediate sanctions concept. Critics argue that instead of reducing the control
exerted over offenders’ lives, the new programs have actually increased it. You can
readily see how this might occur. With the existence of an alternative at each
possible point in the system, the decision maker can select a more intrusive option
than ordinarily would have been imposed. For instance, community service can be
added to probation; shock incarceration can be added to a straight probation term.
Available evidence reveals that implementing intermediate sanctions has had three
consequences: 1. Wider nets: The reforms increase the proportion of people in
society whose behavior is regulated or controlled by the state. 2. Stronger nets: By
intensifying the state’s intervention powers, the reforms augment the state’s
capacity to control people. 3. Different nets: The reforms create new jurisdictional
authority or transfer it from one agency or control system to another. Varieties of
Intermediate Sanctions How the various sanctions programs relate to one another
depends on the jurisdiction running them. For example, one county may use
intensive supervision in lieu of a jail sentence; another may use it for probation
violators. We have organized our description of the main types of intermediate
sanctions according to which agencies administer them—the judiciary, probation
departments, or correctional departments. Sanctions Administered by the Judiciary
The demand for intermediate sanctions often comes from judges dissatisfied with
their sentencing options. In courts that have managerial authority over probation,
this discontent has translated into new probation programs. Other courts have
sought to expand their sentencing options by relying more on programs within their
control, such as pretrial diversion, fines, forfeiture, community service, and
restitution. These programs aim primarily at reducing trial caseloads, especially
focusing on less serious offenders who ought not to tie up the court system. The
programs also seek to impose meaningful sanctions without incarceration. Pretrial
Diversion The functions of pretrial diversion, especially as a jail alternative, are
examined in Chapter 7. Because courts have extremely broad discretion in the
pretrial phase of adjudication, some have sought to apply this discretion to a greater
range of offenders. Pretrial-diversion programs typically target petty drug
offenders. A new strategy in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan, exemplifies this
practice. First-time arrestees for drug possession are “fast-tracked” into drug
treatment programs within hours of arrest. They are promised that if they
successfully complete the drug treatment program, the charges against them will be
dropped. This kind of treatment-based diversion program depends on cooperation
between the court and the prosecution. Judges indicate their willingness to delay
trial if prosecutors are willing to drop charges against less serious offenders who
change their own lives. See “Myths in Corrections” for information on the
effectiveness of drug testing. Fines Over $1 billion in fines is collected annually in
the United States. Yet, compared with other Western democracies, the United States
makes little use of fines as the sole punishment for crimes more serious than motor
vehicle violations; nationally about 1 percent of felons receive fines as the sole
penalty.9 Instead, fines are typically used with other sanctions, such as probation
and incarceration. For example, it is not unusual for a judge to impose two years’
probation and a $500 fine. Many judges cite the difficulty of enforcing and collecting
fines as the reason they do not make greater use of this punishment. They note that
offenders tend to be poor, and many judges fear that fines would be paid from the
proc …
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