Archive June 2020

3 Alternative Sentencing Arrangements for Criminal Justice Reform

There has been a growing cry for criminal justice and police reform in the United States. Sending a convicted criminal to prison is costly and has not been shown to be effective at reducing repeat offenses. What’s worse, it often perpetuates criminal activity by putting a label that can make finding decent work and housing difficult for those who serve time. A common concern expressed by those new to the conversation is what sentences are appropriate for offenders who have been convicted if incarceration is taken off the table. Luckily, there has been a plethora of research into alternative sentencing options to determine which ones work.

1. Psychological Intervention

Mental health courts have proven to be an extremely effective method of dealing with offenders who are suffering from a psychological condition. They can prescribe treatment ranging from online anger management courses to an in-patient therapy program. Because they address the root cause of criminal activity, they have a much lower recidivism rate than the prison system. All staff involved must have a commitment to the process in order for a system of psychological intervention to work.

2. Drug Rehabilitation

In cases where drug abuse is present, rehabilitation is often the best path forward. There are numerous in-prison drug treatment programs that can be used during the sentencing process. Prison overcrowding and the abundance of banned substances within correctional facilities make this less effective than rehab. As a result, outpatient drug rehabilitation programs have become a viable sentencing option for many court systems.

3. Restorative Justice

As its name suggests, restorative justice works to address the entire community impacted by a crime. It allows victims and offenders to heal through discussions and addressing the harm caused by the crime committed. It encourages participation by all parties involved and the reintegration of offenders into productive roles within the community.

As criminal justice reform moves forward, more alternatives will likely emerge. For now, psychological interventions, rehabilitation programs and efforts to restore community are important and effective alternatives to prison sentences in many cases.…