The criminal justice system seems to be in a state of change as of late. Many factors contribute to this but the ultimate goal is to help punish people who break the law while also providing them with the tools to rehabilitate into productive citizens who aren’t going to fall into a cycle of recidivism.
There are many ways that the criminal justice system can be reformed. One thing that they must focus on is keeping people who aren’t likely to commit more crimes from being transformed into hardened criminals.
Creating smarter sentences
Smarter criminal justice sentences are a key component of reform. The way that the system has been set up for a long time, many crimes would lead a person to prison. This was true for even some minor conviction. The person who is incarcerated for something nonviolent like white collar crimes or drug possession would be housed with people convicted of violent crimes like murder or assault. Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide a rehabilitative environment for the individuals who are ready to make a positive life change.
An alternative option that some courts are using, including the federal court system, is that some inmates are being placed on home confinement instead of having to serve their entire sentence within a prison. This puts them around a positive support system instead of having nothing but other people convicted of crimes around them.
Even when they are placed in prison, some inmates are being given time credits that take time off of the length of an incarceration. They can earn these by doing some activities, such as participating in certain programs that help to reduce recidivism.
Communities reap benefits
Not only do these options for criminal justice reform help the inmates who want to better themselves, they also help communities. By giving these individuals the tools they need to live a life without criminal activities, communities are safer. Additionally, these programs are cost-effective and can save taxpayers money since they are usually less expensive than incarceration.
Pennsylvania is a state that others can look toward to see the effectiveness of criminal justice reform. This state has had initiatives in place since the Justice Reinvestment Initiative was passed in 2012. The key here is that lawmakers have to find a way to balance public safety, punishment for crimes, rehabilitative opportunities and cost. This might not be an easy feat, but it is one that is well worth the effort.