CJ 210 Project Template
Grant Proposal Statement of Need
CJ 210: The U.S. Correctional System
Ideological Influence on Professional Practice
Goals and Programs
There are five primary goals of sentencing, which include incapacitation, retribution,
rehabilitation, deterrence, and restitution. First is incapacitation, which is the “isolating of
offenders to protect society” (Siegel, 2017, p. 21). There is also selective incapacitation, which is
defined as “identifying high-rate offenders and providing for their long-term incarceration”
(Siegel, 2017, p. 22). The purpose of incapacitation is based upon the belief that criminals are
unable to commit criminal acts if they are in prison. The next goal of sentencing is retribution.
Retribution, or just deserts, is the belief that “punishment is justified if and only if it is deserved
because of a past crime” (Siegel, 2017, p. 23). Third, is rehabilitation, meaning, “changing an
offender’s character, attitudes, or behavior pattern so as to diminish his or her criminal
propensities” (Siegel, 2017, p. 22). Rehabilitation is grounded on the concept that criminals can
be transformed through treatment and education. Fourth, is deterrence. There is general
deterrence and specific deterrence. General deterrence is intended to inhibit others from
perpetrating related crimes. Specific deterrence is “the idea that an individual offender will
decide against repeating an offense after experiencing the painfulness of punishment for that
offense” (Siegel, 2017, p. 20). Lastly, is restitution, meaning that a culpable offender is required
to reimburse their victims for their damage, “the justice system for costs related to processing
their cases, and society for the disruptions caused because of their crimes” (Siegel, 2017, p. 24).
Prison programs can foster rehabilitation by administering inmates with the opportunity
to establish job skills, learn how to regulate their emotions, and concentrate on other concerns
that may have led to their criminal behavior. Inmates that engage in these sorts of programs are
less plausible to reoffend and more inclined to be effectively employed after release from
custody. Programs that can be offered in prison include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),
employment training, counseling, substance abuse treatment, and family reintegration. CBT can
be used to assist offender’s in altering behavior patterns that led them to committing criminal
acts. This can include various forms of therapy such as anger management. In terms of
employment preparation programs, this can include providing employment skills, such as job
readiness, for inmates up to six months prior to being released. Counseling is another way in
which prisons can aid in fostering rehabilitation. Counseling grants inmates the freedom to speak
to a counselor about their problems and learn how to develop healthy coping mechanisms for
dealing with stress. Substance abuse treatment is a common prison program that helps inmates
address their addiction and provides them with tools to live a sober life. Finally, there is family
reunification programs that helps inmates stay banded together with their families while they are
incarcerated and brace them for life after prison.
House arrest is one of many alternatives to incarceration. Depending on the circumstance,
the severity of house arrest sanctions can range from being a stand-alone alternative to being
paired with other sanctions such as community service or electronic monitoring. The primary
intention of home incarceration is to safeguard the public and use the lowest possible
disbursement of tax money. There are also habitual offender laws that impose more punitive
punishments on criminals who have been convicted of multiple crimes. For example, three-
strikes laws. Fines are an additional type of monetary punishment that can be imposed on
criminals instead of incarceration. Next, is probation, which is a sentence that allows criminals to
avoid prison if they meet certain conditions. Lastly, is community service, a sentence that
requires criminals to perform unpaid work for the community.
Impact of Sentencing Structures
Determinate sentences are a kind of sentencing structure in which the length of the
sentence is predetermined in advance. The judge must appoint a sentence that is within the range
set by the law for the crime. Determinate sentences have been critiqued as a prominent
component to escalations in prison overcrowding. They discard the parole board, and the judge is
rejected any consideration over the length of the sentence.
Indeterminate sentences are a type of sentencing structure in which the length of the
sentence is not predetermined. The judge tailors the sentence to each individual offender based
on factors such as the offender’s criminal history, whether they have engaged in or declined to be
a part of rehabilitation programs while incarcerated and considering if the individual will be a
threat to society upon release. In contrast, they can lead to discrimination, as prisoners of color or
those who do not have a college education are more probable to receive an indeterminate
sentence. Additionally, indeterminate sentences do not necessarily increase any type of therapy
or treatment. In general, these programs were not found to successfully reduce the recidivism of
offenders. (MacKenzie, 1997; Tonry, 1996). In many instances, the increased surveillance
associated with the programs resulted in more technical violations and returns to prison.
Misdemeanor offenses are less serious, and routinely carry lighter consequences than a
felony. Misdemeanor sentencing may include being sentenced to jail for less than a year,
community service, probation, fines, and rehabilitation as alternatives. Felonies on the other
hand, routinely consist of serving more than a year, sometimes even decades, incarcerated.
Incapacitation policies such as mandatory minimum sentences are broadly recognized to
“prevent crime because offenders who are imprisoned do not have the opportunity to commit
crimes” (MacKENZIE, 2001, p. 306). The problem with mandatory minimum sentences is that
they can lead to unjust outcomes, as the judge can appoint long sentences, even in cases where
incarceration is unnecessary. For example, an individual sanctioned of a nonviolent drug offense
may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, despite the lack of a prior
criminal history and pose no threat to society. Mandatory minimums can inappropriately impact
minority communities, lead to prison overcrowding, and can make it difficult for people to
reintegrate back into society after they have served their sentence. Furthermore, once passed into
law, they can be challenging to revise or abolish because they require formal legislative action to
do so. The use of three-strikes laws, which is a set of rules put in place for habitual offenders that
require “offenders convicted of a third serious felony serve 25 years to life imprisonment, often
without possibility of parole” (Johnson, 2009, para. 15).
Invisible punishments become evident by the offender when they struggle to create a
normal, competent life in the community after the court’s-imposed sentence has been concluded.
Some of these punishments include being denied for public housing; welfare benefits; and the
maneuverability essential to access jobs that require transportation. They demand barriers to
rehabilitation by restricting an ex-offender’s opportunities for employment, education, housing,
and a normal family life. Aside from jail time, fines, and a permanent record, there are other
unintended consequences that result from a felony conviction. A primary consequence convicted
felons face is difficulty securing employment. Many places are not willing to hire someone with
a felony and has served time.
Structure and Logistics of Correctional Facilities
Upon entering prison, the first step is normally an initial screening, where a staff member
reviews the prisoner’s file and decides whether there are any special needs or concerns. The next
step is a medical exam, where a doctor or nurse checks the prisoner’s physical health and
concludes whether there are any immediate concerns. The third step is a psychological exam,
where a psychologist or mental health counselor assesses the prisoner’s mental health. The fourth
step is orientation, where the prisoner is given information about the prison and their rights. The
final step of processing is usually placement, where the prisoner is assigned to a cell or housing
unit. While incarcerated, inmates are entitled to certain rights. The Fourth Amendment protects
prisoners from unreasonable searches of their person and property; however, these rights look a
little different in prison. In the outside world, police need a warrant or probable cause to search a
person or their property, and if they don’t, they may be violating your Fourth Amendment rights.
These same rights don’t necessarily apply inside of prison, in that a prison official likely will not
need a warrant or probable cause to search an inmate’s cell.
Correctional facilities have established programs that supports inmates in adjusting to
reentry, in the form of prerelease treatment and post release care. This may consist of cognitive
behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, post release supervision, and halfway houses, just
to name a few. These programs are pertinent in helping newly released offender’s overcome
burdens by providing continued support from family, friends, and parole officers.
There are three types of local correctional facilities: jails, lockups, and
workhouses/houses of corrections. Jails have the power to apprehend individuals for 48 hours or
longer, but usually under a year. They house offender’s convicted of minor offenses, are
managed on a regional level, and in some instances, by the state or federal government. Lockups
normally hold individuals for under 48 hours for offenses such as alcohol intoxication, to give
them enough time to sober up before being sanctioned with a fine, court date, or both. Lastly,
workhouses are managed by cities or on occasion, county prisons. They hold individuals for a
relatively short period of time convicted of misdemeanor offenses or pretrial prisoners.
Incarceration, a common type of sanction, can be expensive on corrections facilities, as
they must provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for inmates. House arrest is used as
an alternative to incarceration. Depending on the circumstance, the severity of house arrest
sanctions can range from being a stand-alone alternative to being paired with other sanctions
such as community service or electronic monitoring. The primary intention of home
incarceration is to safeguard the public and use the lowest possible disbursement of tax money.
House arrest is a form of confinement, but sometimes allows offenders to still attend school or
work. Advantages of house arrest include reducing costs and overcrowding in the correctional
system, permitting offenders with health problems better maintain access to healthcare, and gives
offenders’ the opportunity to keep family relationships intact. (Siegel, 2017). Home incarceration
is a time-consuming method of community supervision. “Officers provide around-the-clock
coverage and respond to electronic monitoring alerts 24 hours a day.” (Siegel, 2017, p. 103) As a
result, officers must make more frequent home visits if they are alerted of a possible violation.
Electronic monitoring is similar to house arrest. Its purpose is to ensure that offenders are at
home when they are supposed to be. It can be used as an independent sanction, or an offender
can be put on an EMU after receiving a jail or prison sentence but before being released to the
community. There are four forms of electronic monitoring: active phone line systems; passive
phone line systems; remote location monitoring; and global positioning systems. Advantages of
electronic monitoring include being relatively low in cost and high in security. Additionally, it
helps offenders avoid overcrowded and dangerous prison environments. “Most importantly, there
is evidence that EM can be highly effective with probationers, reducing the likelihood of
recidivism.” (Siegel, 2017, p. 105) Electronic monitoring has been criticized as not being a
viable alternative to incarceration. Further, some believe that EM disintegrates one’s privacy and
liberty. “Moreover, it does provide a false sense of security, because knowing where people are
does not substitute for knowing what they are doing.” (Siegel, 2017, p. 105) Fines are “a sanction
that requires convicted offenders to pay a specified sum of money” (Siegel, 2017, p. 95). The
objective of monetary sanctions is to balance the economic consequences of sentences on
offenders. Fines are oftentimes used in cases of misdemeanors or lesser offenses. Financial
restitution provides considerable constructive results to the justice process. It can give offenders
the opportunity to evade jail or prison time. It can help victims recover financial or property
losses, and it can give back to the community without requesting them to bear the cost of an
incarceration stay (Siegel, 2017). There are a few drawbacks pertaining to the use of fines as an
intermediate sanction. First being, complications in acquiring funds from offenders, who are
generally low-income or may resort to further criminal acts to pay the fines. Additionally, judges
dispute that depending on fines may end up enabling upper class offenders to buy their way out
of punishment. Then, there are community correctional centers, whose purpose is to be a degree
of reentry for parolees or inmates that are soon going to be released on parole. “These programs
are sometimes used as a base from which offenders can be placed in drug and alcohol treatment
programs, job training, and outpatient psychiatric facilities.” (Siegel, 2017, p. 112) Community
correctional centers come in the form of halfway houses, restitution centers, county work release
centers, and therapeutic communities. These centers are beneficial in steering program members
to fruitful reentry. Nearly all community centers cost less compared to jails or prisons, and they
can minimize overcrowding by offering alternatives to incarceration and are thus another means
of cutting costs. Community corrections is viewed as soft on crime. They are often under-funded,
under-staffed, and have complications connecting special populations, such as sex offenders and
mentally ill offenders, to community-based services and programs.
A well-designed facility can make it easier to manage inmates and staff and can also help
reduce the risk of violence. The physical layout should be designed to facilitate the safe and
secure movement of inmates, staff, and visitors. It should also be designed to provide a safe and
secure environment for all who use it. There are four types of architectural designs prisons use: a
radial design, a telephone-pole design, courtyard design, and campus design. The campus design
utilizes an open layout that authorizes some flexibility of movement and are typically used for
minimum-security facilities and a few medium-security prisons. There are housing units spread
throughout the academic, technical, recreational, and dining units. Campus designs are primarily
seen in women’s prisons and juvenile institutions. Campus designs are intended to feel less like
prison by promoting a rehabilitative approach instead of punishment. Prisons that have a radial
design, “the corridors extend like spokes from a control center at the hub” (Siegel, 2017, p. 175).
Third, is the telephone-pole design, which has “a long central corridor serving as the means for
prisoners to go from one part of the prison to another” (Siegel, 2017, p. 175). Lastly, the
courtyard design, “a prison design in which corridors surround a courtyard. Housing,
educational, vocational, recreational, prison industry, and dining areas face the courtyard”
(Siegel, 2017, p. 175).
Unlike adults, children often act impulsively, recklessly, and irresponsibly. In an adult
jail or prison, this behavior results in more contentious punishment. Being housed in an adult jail
or prison often provokes mental illnesses in children that can lead to increased suicide rates. In
contrast to the adult justice system, the juvenile justice system is more focused on rehabilitation
rather than punishment. In addition to rehabilitation, juvenile justice focuses on skill
development, addressing treatment needs, and prosperous reintegration of youth into the
The aging of the prison population has come about from longer sentences resulting from
the get-tough-on-crime measures that impose in-truth-sentencing, mandatory sentences, and
three-strike laws, and an increasing number of older people convicted of sex crimes and murder.
Elderly prisoners are vulnerable to victimization and require special attention when it comes to
medical treatment, housing, nutrition, and institutional activities. The care of the elderly is
extremely expensive. The average cost of housing an inmate over 60 is $70,000 a year, which is
about three times the average cost for other prisoners. Inmates over 50 are more likely to have
health and mental health problems than noninstitutionalized Americans because they often come
from poor backgrounds, have a greater likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, and have more
restricted access to health care.
Impact of Diversity
Prisoners with chronic mental health problems typically have had behavioral problems
before incarceration, and many get involved in substance abuse and violence. Those inmates
with mental health problems are also chronic offenders, having served three or more prior
sentences before incarceration; they also suffered high rates of substance dependence or abuse in
the year before their admission. In addition, these inmates bring other problems to the prison
setting. About a quarter of state prisoners with mental problems also report past physical or
sexual abuse. About one in three state prisoners with mental health problems and one in four
federal prisoners had received mental health treatment since admission.
Transgender people have a difficult time in prison, as they are usually sent to male
institutions, and unless they are placed in protective custody will experience repeated
victimization. LGBT inmates are more likely to be placed in isolation in prison because 24
percent of transgender inmate’s report being assaulted by another inmate, which is nearly 12
times the rate of inmate assault experienced by the overall prison population.
Rise of Incarceration and Reduction Strategies
The War on Drugs has been a driving factor in the rise of incarceration rates. Between 1930 and
1975, the U.S. incarceration rate was somewhat balanced, as this was the generation of
rehabilitation and indeterminate sentencing. Since then, drug offenders have been the leading
factor of the general surge in incarceration numbers. Mandatory sentencing laws have
substantially heightened incarceration rates due to longer sentencing of offenders who formerly
would have been put on probation are now being incarcerated. While the application of
sentencing guidelines inhibits objectionable sentencing inequalities, the use of sentencing
guidelines to regulate prison populations has been ineffective.
Rape has been a long-standing issue inside of correctional facilities. As a response, the
Prison Rape Elimination Act was implemented. It established a zero-tolerance policy for the
incidence of prison rape in U.S. prisons. The PREA is a program dedicated to collecting national
prison rape statistics, data, and conducting research; disseminating information and procedures
for combating prison rape; and assisting in funding state programs. “Major previsions of PREA
include: adherence to zero-tolerance standard for the incidence of inmate sexual assault and rape;
development of standards for detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape;
collection and dissemination of information on the incidence of prison rape and award of grant
funds to help state and local governments implement the purposes of the Act” (PREA / Offender
Sexual Abuse, 2017, para. 2). The Prison Rape Elimination Act enforces a zero-tolerance policy
for inmate-on-inmate sexual assaults and staff-on-inmate misconduct. The intention is to avert,
expose, and acknowledge sexual abuse in prisons.
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