Crime has always been prevalent in the myriad spheres of our society and will never cease to exist. To combat crimes, methods have been derived to deter these depending on the gravity of the crime itself. The graver the crime the graver the punishment. These methods can prove to be inefficient. In this eventuality new ways must be thought and implemented for a safer and better community at large. Imprisonment has been used since a very long time ago and still used as a mean to deter and punish law breakers and again the worse the deeds, the greater the time of imprisonment. This method present many objectives and is most widely used, it keeps people guilty of a crime under strict control before their case is presented at the court of justice and act as a punishment as their freedom is snatched once they are convicted. Moreover it prevents them from committing more crimes. It also plays the role of a rehabilitation center that is the person leads a better life and is able to reintegrate the society. Finally it protects the public from them.(stern V 2006)
However, these objectives are not always met by the mean of incarceration. As Professor Angela Davis (Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University) puts it, prisons are obsolete. She votes for a “decarceration” and believes that the era of imprisonment has come to an end because often prisoner are those who suffer from racism and sexism (Wikipedia, Angela Davis).
Moreover incarceration marginalizes the offenders, keeping them away from the social interactions of their formerly everyday life and this will create a sense of alienation which will further encourage criminal behavior. (William Bales, 2011)
Evidence shows that, imprisonment further criminalise the offenders where they get indulged in more serious crimes where all they did was a misdemeanor. Often in the prison environment drug dealing takes place and non drug addicts become prey to temptations. Moreover wrong frequentations of notorious criminals make them divert to a world full of crime where they collude with them. Furthermore, the transmission of HIV and other diseases are prevalent there and this is alarming. (William Bales, 2011)
Prisoner usually comes from poor environment where they are poverty stricken, unemployed and indulged in drug and alcohol activities and they commit crimes because of their illiteracy.
Therefore in the light of the above, it is concluded that imprisonment is not the only possible means of deterring crimes.
The justice policy institute concluded the crime rate has gone down since the states has put fewer person in prison. As prison population fell by 0.2%, a 6% drop in violent crime was noticed. These figures show that keeping fewer prisoners could have a positive effect on the safety of the public. (Heather C West, 2010)
There are many alternatives to prison. But the gravity of the action committed by the offender should be taken into consideration.
Firstly the fine. this is a monetary amount to be paid by the convict and this amount again depends on the gravity of the action committed and the economical status of him.Usually fines are paid for small offences such as speeding fines but for atrocious crimes it does not apply because it will be unfair to let the criminal free in the society. Compensation also is a type of fine paid to the family of the victims. (Matt Faye, 2010)
Secondly probation. The offender is active in the society but he is under constatant monitoring by a probation officer. The offender is given a restricted area where he can go and if he refrains to do so, then he may be imprisoned. This alternative is flexible and is used in the Wales. (Matt, Faye, 2010).
With technology the use of electronic monitoring is now possible.this technology is very practical and requires obligatory supervision.the convict wears ankle bracelets which is connected to a gps (global positioning satellite system) which gives the exact location of him. This costs 6 times lesser than imprisonment and reduces offenders risk by 31%. This study was conducted in Florida where more than 5000 offenders were supervised. (William Bales, 2011)
Thirdly Capital Punishment. This type of punishment is the most finite type.The talion law an eye for eye a tooth for a tooth. Murderers forgo their rights as human when they take someone else’s life.Many more innocent person have been killed by released paroled murderers than people executed. Capital punishment is 100% effective as a deterrent because the murderer cannot kill again.
It can also deter other crimes, a 1985 study (Stephen K. Layson, University of North Carolina) showed that 1 execution deterred 18 murders. (Wikipedia )
Moreover this will cut the cost of prisons will also be reduced.
Fourthly, Suspended Sentences. The offender is not imprisoned but follows certain conditions. This system is used in overcrowded prisons where the offender must not commit any offence for a set amount of time. The offender is also supervised by a probation officer by this time. (Stern v 2006)
The offender is required to do community works entirely or partially in prison. The work is unpaid. Normally some cleaning or maintenance.
Rehabilitation, the convicts is allowed to follow some treatment (drug and alcohol addicts). Often those people commits crime and this can stop with proper rehabilitation facilities. Finding drug treatments to them will reduce the number of addicts in the prisons and is a suitable alternative too. (Stern V 2006)
Juvenile Crimes – child crime is different from adult crime. In most legal systems the offenders are not deemed to be fully functioning as moral agents. Thus, the best way to handle them is through rehabilitation rather than punishment.correction centres should be made for children beyond control instead of imprisoning them.(Wikipedia
Crime committed by mentally ill offenders should not be punished by the means of incarceration because the latter is not conscious of what he/she is doing. Instead they should be conducted to a psychiatric centre to get treated.
For these alternatives to be implemented, the convicts must follow a set of guidelines and must imperatively follow it.otherwise they will be imprisoned.some right are also restricted for them such as they won’t be allow to go to places where they want to go.
Alternative ways to prisons is a good thing while the offender respect the set of guidelines given.If the single bread earner of a family is jailed then the whole family is crippled and will fade into the darkness of poverty. if a mother is imprisoned then the child will lack maternal love and this can turn the child into a criminal.on a conclusive note it is better considering the condition where the person committed the crime. if a person commits a theft out of pleasure or greed he deserves the maximum punishment else if because of poverty then trainng programs can be offered.
- Stern V Criminal Justice Reform Unit Vienna International Centre, P.O. Box 500, 1400 Vienna, Austria(2006) united nations office on drugs and crimes, Alternatives to Incarceration http://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and- prisonreform/cjat_eng/3_Alternatives_Incarceration.pdf [accessed 24.02.15]
- William bales ,Karen mann 2011 Us department of justice ,office of justice programs national institute of justice september 2011 Electronic monitoring reduces recidivism.https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/234460.pdf[accessed [24.02.15]
- Matt Loffman and Faye Morten ,Joe Caesey February 2010.The quaker council for European affaires,council of Europe ,Investigating alternatives to imprisonment pg [8-12] http://www.qcea.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/rprt-alternatives-en-jan-2010.pdf accessed [24.02.15]
- Heather C. West, William J. Sabol, and Sarah J. CRIME, INCARCERATION DOWN IN 2010: States are safely reducing prison populations SEPTEMBER 2011 http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/fbi_ucr_2010_factsheet_final.pdf accessed [24.02.15[
- http://www.sistersinside.com.au/media/alternativestoprison.pdf accessed [24.02.15]
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