The focus is on Community work service as an alternative sentencing. Community work service allows the offender to contribute to the community. This type of work can be considered a win-win situation, because the offenders provide the service and the community benefits from their work. There are all kinds of work activities for offenders. The points that are going to be addressed are: community work service, probation officers, taxpayers, overcrowding and the benefits each party gains. It can be concluded that community work service is here to stay.
Hence, it can be seen as a second chance to repair the damage done by making right out of wrong. Community service is when someone performs an action which benefits his or her community. However, community work service can be a form of alternative sentencing. The offender is ordered by a court or probation officer to perform community work service as part of a sanction. Through community service, offenders are offered the chance to “give back” to the community by providing a service that enriches the lives of others.
The offenders are placed into unpaid community service positions with non-profit or tax supported community agencies” (Cook county, 2006). The probation officer carefully monitors the offender’s progress by checking with the agency, ensuring that the offenders is regularly reporting to complete the hours, as well as monitoring the offenders’ attitude and quality of work. The probation officer is also responsible for reporting any negative incidents to the court in an effort the hold the offender accountable. Community service is a form of restorative justice, which involves victim, offender, and community.
Criminal justice is asset of institutions and procedures for determining which people deserve to be sanctioned because of their wrongdoing and what kind of sanctions they deserve to receive” (Clear, 2003). Community work service allows sentences to more closely fit the circumstances of certain offences, and ensures that adult offenders are held accountable to the community for their actions. Hence, alternative sentencing is, applied to offenders whose absence of prior criminal history or general characteristics indicates that they can be trusted not to abuse their greater freedom.
Community work service is punishment that takes away an offenders time and energy” (Schmalleger, 2009). Restorative justice is the concept that any crime, regardless of size or severity, hurts the community. Instead of merely paying a fine or spending time in jail, the offender is able to repair some of the damage done by participating in community service. “There is a need to understand who or what is being restored, including the core values of healing, moral learning, community participation, community caring, respectful dialogue, forgiveness, responsibility, apology, and making amends” (Sieh, 2006).
The work assignment gives both the community and workers a chance to benefit from the experience. All offenders participating in the program are supervised by personnel at the sponsoring agency and by probation officers. “within the community justice frame work, the need to establish enduring partnerships with citizenry, other agencies, and local interest groups is critical to the success of probation” (Sieh, 2006). There are all kinds of work activities for offenders.
Examples of work placements include: * Agencies offering services to senior citizens or the handicapped * Hospitals * Highway cleanup Parks maintenance * Skilled labor (carpentry) * Landscaping * Painting During probation, offenders must stay out of trouble and meet various other requirements. Probation officers, who are called community supervision officers in some States, supervise people who have been placed on probation. “Probation officers supervise offenders on probation or parole through personal contact with the offenders and their families” (Schmalleger, 2009). Instead of requiring offenders to meet officers in their offices, many officers meet offenders in their homes and at their places of employment or therapy.
Some offenders are required to wear an electronic device so that probation officers can monitor their location and movements. “Probation supervision has three main elements: resource mediation, surveillance, and enforcement” (Schmalleger, 2009). Probation officers may arrange for offenders to get substance abuse rehabilitation or job training. Probation officers usually work with either adults or juveniles exclusively. Only in small, usually rural, jurisdictions do probation officers counsel both adults and juveniles.
Probation officers must be ware that they will not always be effective in helping probationers, making it necessary to find outside resources for the probationer to succeed” (Sieh, 2006). Probation officers also spend much of their time working for the courts. They investigate the backgrounds of the accused, write presentence reports, and recommend sentences. They review sentencing recommendations with offenders and their families before submitting them to the court. Probation officers may be required to testify in court as to their findings and recommendations.
They also attend hearings to update the court on offenders’ efforts at rehabilitation and compliance with the terms of their sentences. The number of cases a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist handles at one time depends on the needs of offenders and the risks they pose. Higher risk offenders and those who need more counseling usually command more of the officer’s time and resources. Caseload size also varies by agency jurisdiction. Consequently, “officers may handle from 20 to more than 100 active cases at a time” (Sieh, 2006). Probationers perceive probation officers as agents who will assist them, while, judges are viewed as agents whose main purpose is to punish offenders for wrongdoing” (Sieh, 2006).
When an offender is placed on community supervision by the court, he/she signs a “contract” whereby he/she agrees to abide by certain conditions. These conditions usually include: * Report to the probation officer * Do not commit any new crime * Do not use alcohol and / or drugs or enter bars * Do not leave the County or State * Perform community work service Pay restitution, fine, court fees and probation fees if ordered * Permit the supervisor to visit him/her at the home or elsewhere By having the offender do community work service the offender will realize that not only do most crimes have a direct victim, but, the community is a victim as well. Having an offender provide services to the community rather than going to jail is beneficial to the tax payers.
The tax payers don’t have to worry about another person going to prison where it might be overcrowded. Because overcrowded prisons have been a major problem in our society. In 2006, 8 of the nation’s 25 largest jails were operating at over 100 percent of their rated capacity” (Schmalleger, 2009). Having community work service as an alternative helps ease things down between the taxpayers and the justice system when it comes to the question, who has to pay to keep the offender in prison. Overcrowding puts prisoners at significant risk. People living in crowded conditions are more likely to get sick, stay sick, and pass diseases on to others. They are more likely to experience mental health problems, particularly stress-related mental illnesses.
They are more likely to develop aggression and frustration. (Schmalleger, 2009). Being forced into crowded conditions with other prisoners results in riots, abuse, and assault. The prison system struggles to keep up with disciplinary problems when it has minimal staff and outdated facilities. This often results in brutal abuse at the hands of guards and other prison personnel. Overcrowding also limits access to resources. This includes health care for prisoners.
Prisoners have died due to lack of health access because a nurse or doctor is not available and it’s considered ‘unsafe’ to transfer a prisoner for medical care. Considering that rates of hepatitis, HIV, and numerous other chronic conditions are high in prisons, lack of access to routine health care is a serious issue” Schmalleger, 2009). Lack of access to medications or irregular access to medications puts prisoners with chronic illnesses at extreme risk. “ If extreme enough, overcrowding can lead to a court order that necessitates early release of certain prisoners in order to bring jails into compliance with the Constitution” (Schmalleger, 2009).
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