Policy Recommendations for Community- Based Corrections Practitioners

The states in the United States now have over 1 million cells that houses over 2 million offenders. About 95% of these inmates are eventually released to serve in community corrections programs. This serves to show the important role that community corrections programs and the practitioners serve in maintenance of community safety. Although these community corrections programs appear to meet its objectives and goals, there remain a number of issues that affect community corrections practitioners, which are critical in attainment of effective future community-based corrections programs. Among the issues that face the community corrections practitioners are the reduced staff morale, the increasing number of offender populations, and the issue of funding and scarce resource allocation.

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            The most fundamental issue that faces the community corrections practitioners is the increasing number of released inmates. According to (Desmarais, Johnson & Singh, 2016) the number of released inmates and offenders under correctional supervision in the United States is one of the highest in the world. The authors point that about 7 million people or 1 in 35 adults was under the supervision of correctional system as of 2013. The country has close to one quarter of world’s prisoners though its population is less than 5% of global population. This trend is unlikely to slow and growth in people under incarceration and those in parole or probation will continue to put more pressure on the community correctional practitioners.

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            The second issue that faces the community corrections practitioners is the reduced work moral owing to increasing work pressure. There has been a rise in the population of offenders under parole and probation. According to (DeMichele & Payne, 2007) the parole and probation populations have been on the rise in the United States since 1980. This has consequently led to increased workload among the community corrections practitioners. The authors assert that increased offender populations have led to an increase in case load and workload in corrections practitioners, which may negatively impact on the effectiveness of community corrections programs.

            The third significant issue that the community-based corrections practitioners face is the community corrections practitioner morale. There is low moral from the community corrections practitioners owing to a number of factors. First, the huge caseloads and workloads have increased pressure on the correctional officers, who are forced to attend to large number of offenders. Secondly, there is low compensation of the community-based corrections practitioners. The combination of these two factors has led to a demotivated workforce, which negatively impacts on their job productivity.   

            Although the offenders under the community corrections are mostly required to pay for their correctional services, there is significant funding problem that affects the effective operation of the community corrections practitioners. Although the dominant parole and probation community corrections programs have witnessed a substantial growth in the populations of offenders, there has been smaller growth in its budgets (Christian, Martinez & Veysey, 2013). According to the authors, as much as eight times of state budgetary allocations go to prisons compared to those allocated to the community corrections programs (pp. 197). This stifles the development of community programs directed at offenders serving in those programs. In addition, the less focus and allocation of inadequate resources to the community-based corrections programs negatively impact on the efficacy of such programs and effectiveness of the community corrections practitioners.

Policy Recommendations to Address the Issues

            The adoption of appropriate policy recommendations can be an effective way of ending or drastically reducing the issues affecting community corrections practitioners. As population of the incarcerated individuals and those under parole and probation, it is imperative that urgent measures be adopted. The paper suggests the following policy recommendations be utilized by practitioners to improve performance and service delivery.

            Adopt early prevention. The societal and demographic trends can be blamed reduced efficiency of the community-based corrections programs. The practitioners are now facing staggering growth in offender population and changing characteristics of correctional population. The criminal justice department must take a leading role in development of interagency early preventive efforts. Evidence has shown that early prevention is linked with reduced crime rates. Successful implementation of early prevention efforts would reduce the number of children and adults that commit crimes. This will translate into reduced number of people under incarcerations or those under parole and probation.

            Adopt innovative tools for case management. The increasing number of offenders under the community corrections programs increases caseloads and workloads among the practitioners. In order to improve their performance and service delivery, there is need for the criminal justice department to adopt innovative offender risk and needs assessment tools. Schaefer & Williamson (2018) points that despite the evidence that risk and needs assessment tools are critical and effective in improvement of correction practices, probation and parole officers have always shown little compliance with these case management tools. As such there is need for increased training and sensitization among parole and probation officers to ensure the increased adoption and use of case management tools as this would reduce case and workloads.

            Increase fund allocation. The number of offenders in community corrections is higher than those in prisons, yet it receives less funding compared to prison allocation. The criminal justice department must increase funding to the community corrections programs as it plays a huge role in offender rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. The funding for these community programs must be comparable to those allocated to prisons. The increased funding would ensure adequate services are provided, while also ensuring the parole and probation officers receive adequate remuneration thus increasing their motivation and performance levels.            

The policies presented are the most efficient for addressing issues that confront the community-based corrections practitioners. The policy recommendations touch on the key areas of concern in the community corrections which are the major sources of the issues that affect the practitioners. These areas are funding, increased case and workloads and reduced workforce morale. Moreover, the policy recommendations suggested have been shown to be most effective and are supported by evidence. For example, Dodge et al., (2015) found that early prevention strategies such as psychosocial interventions have been shown to reduce crime among problem-children. Therefore, addressing the three critical areas through the suggested policy recommendations is akin to reducing the problems that hinder effective performance and service delivery among the community-based corrections practitioners.

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