Each country has its means through which the criminal justice policies and practices are governed depending on its democracy levels. For other nations, public safety is maintained by not imprisoning a large percentage of their population but use another mechanism to handle the people who are found breaking the law. According to Conser et al. (2013), the US Probation and Pretrial Services System allows for probation and supervised release for its inmates. Parole has been part of the country's means of maintaining criminal justice since the 1900s which gave birth to supervised release which came into existence in the late 1980s. However, all these factors are dependent on the class of offenses the criminal is being accused of committing and the maximum imprisonment term. There is a need to reduce the number of people under community supervision as a result of the ever-ballooning budget crisis and a shift in politics of punishment.
In the year 2014, there was a 1% drop in the number of grownups under supervision in the community through parole or probation. This saw 4.7 million adults being subjected to some form of correctional community supervision which was down 45,300 the same period in 2013 (Kaeble et al.,2015). As per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this is the seventh consecutive year there is a reduction in this population. Over this seven year period, the adult population subjected to some form of community supervision declined by an annual average of 0.5% to 2.6% (400,000 people) (Kaeble et al.,2015). On the other hand, the parole population declined by ten percent between 2008 -2014 while there was a 4% increase in the parole population. However, parole and probation are two different types of supervision with the latter being a period through which an individual is subjected to a conditional supervised release in a community after a prison term. For the former, the court orders an individual to undergo some form of a supervised period in the community which can be used as an incarceration alternative (Kaeble et al., 2015).
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Despite the cost for community supervision being lower than placing the same offender in prison, there is still need to bring down the numbers of the people who are under supervision. The cost has declined over the years, but the truth is that it is not because of a reduction in cases that call for such a conviction. It is because the judiciary has less financial sustainability to invest in community supervision. Most of the finances were used to focus on cases that did not present the lowest risk to the judiciary. The cost associated with surveillance are calculated in relation to the probation and pretrial services officers' salaries, expenditures used in courts, operating expenses and other miscellaneous. From this case, it is, therefore, evident that there is a need to reduce the huge population of people who are being subjected to community supervision convictions for the judicial service is facing a financial setback when it comes to catering for such cases (Samuels, et al., 2013).
The primary reason for the high numbers seen in community offenders leading to high costs is as a result of recidivism. A large number of people who end up being incarcerated have a high likelihood of re-offending once they have committed their supervision sentence. According to Klingele, (2013), offering education to the offenders subjected to community supervision will help in the reduction of their numbers. This is because most of the people who involve themselves in crimes at times engage in the activities as a means of getting income. Nevertheless, there is need to ensure that these offenders are given education as they carry out their sentences. This will help them in preparing for life after the supervised sentence. The offering of education to these people is a moral imperative and should not be viewed as sound public policy. After the penalty, they will return to the community as not only law abiding but productive members of the society. By giving these people an opportunity to use their second chance in life, the communities are bound to become safer, stronger meaning everyone will have a brighter future. Once an individual has something to do with their lives and get an income, they will stay out of trouble, in the long run, fewer people are subjected to such convictions.
There is a need to limit the length of time offenders are put under community supervision. There has been an extension of the periods through which an individual is subjected to probation and post-release supervisions. In some states within the USA, the community supervision periods extend to more than ten years and can even go for the entire lifetime of an individual (Klingele, 2013). As such, there is an increase expected in the number of people subjected to community supervision because the rate of release is lower than that of conviction. Shortening the periods to a few months and at the most year following a person's conviction will reduce the numbers. A major reason for this prolonged period is that the state at times claims that it is trying to enhance public safety through overseeing the activities of the individuals by preventing them from committing a criminal re-offense. Another reason is that the state claims that it is trying to collect restitution fees from the person of which some may take years to satisfy this part of their financial obligations. This extension for community supervision just for the mere fact of collecting money is not justifiable in any way. It is because; money will still be needed to pay the officers who take care of the offenders thus no additional value is seen from the money being collected. Other means such as civil judgment or contempt can be used to getting the restitution fees without having to extend the supervision period. The best means through which this factor is implemented is through limiting the maximum supervision period provided by law which will hinder the sentencing judges and other correctional agencies from giving out lengthy periods (Klingele, 2013)
The introduction of early termination laws will see the reduction in people under community supervision. Different states such as Texas, South Dokato, and New Hampshire have adopted policies that allow for early termination (Klingele, 2013). Such laws to be advocated fro in all the states and ensure that they adopt them. However, for an offender to qualify for this clause, they must comply as the course of supervision is at its greatest. This will see the reduction in costs associated with supervision as a result of few people being supervised. This is also a more suitable law that is not bound to face any form of political and public objection unlike the early prison release acts that had been proposed (Klingele, 2013). The only hindrance that might face successful implementation of such laws would not come from a political perspective but rather a practical. It is because most of the correctional agents have the final say on who is to face early termination thus; it might be based on bias. On the other hand, all this can be avoided in the case early termination is set as a law and allowed after an offender has complied with the supervision after a given a period.
Community Supervisions are important for they allow for people who is involved in crimes to pay back to the community and allow for the community to act as an oversight to the offenders. The community supervision also has an imprisonment clause in case the offender does not adhere to the conditions. However, the costs associated with community supervision have been growing over the years despite them being lower than imprisoning of the offenders. A major factor that has played towards this increased cost is the high numbers of people facing such convictions. These are brought about by the high recidivism rate and long convictions periods. Nevertheless, with an education being offered to the individuals, recidivism rates are bound to reduce. Laws should also be put in place to reduce the maximum number of years judges convict people to community supervision. States in the USA should adopt the early termination laws for offenders who comply with their sentences. Successful implementation of these factors will see a reduction in the number of people under supervision.
Conser, J. A., Paynich, R. & Gingerich, T. (2013). Law enforcement in the United States . Burlington, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Kaeble, D., Maruschak, L. M. & Bonczar, T. P. (2015). Probation and parole in the United States, 2014. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), US Department of Justice, and Office of Justice Programs .
Klingele, C. (2013). Rethinking the use of community supervision. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology , 1015-1069.
Samuels, J., La Vigne, N., & Taxy, S. (2013). Stemming the tide: strategies to reduce the growth and cut the cost of the federal prison system. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute .