How do we rehabilitate Corrections?

A unified corrections system would encourage consistency and success in both its employees and inmates

Corrections is animal in and of itself; it has so many components, idiosyncratic guidelines, multiple oversights, and an endless problem of turnover, budget cuts, disrespect, and inconsistency.

This piece is intended to provide solutions, not problems, to the corrections world and is intended to be portrayed from a neutral standpoint. I refuse to entertain the ideal of being conservative or liberal; my goal is to deliver the facts and allow the readers to utilize their intellect and experience to evaluate my standpoint and to provide recommendations negating or supporting my opinions.

My goal here is to connect corrections and offer ideals that encourage uniformity, consistency, and success.

Without any hesitation whatsoever I will immediately attack the inconsistency amongst corrections nationwide. This inconsistency is not explicit to states’ differences, but in the differences amongst every facet of corrections. City department of corrections, county jails, and state prisons need to be on the same page; this is why I highly recommend the same management.

This is not to suggest that I am a proponent of “big government,” but, rather a system that effectively manages inmates, supports restorative justice, and reduces recidivism nationwide. I thoroughly believe that one agency should be responsible for all corrections activity within a state.

Before I receive criticisms for my desires, allow me the chance to explain my position. I favor a uniform delivery of corrections on a statewide level. I believe that city, county and state corrections should be operated by the same agency, thus allowing for uniform hiring standards, institutional standards, and inmate expectations.

Too often are inmates subjected to inconsistency amongst county jails and state prisons. On a daily basis inmates return from state prisons to my jail with ideals of entitlement, special treatment, and an overall expectation contradictory to the jail system.

Maybe I am naive to contemplate a system in which inmates on all levels will have equal rights, expectations, and perceptions of reality?

In order to operationalize this uniform system, some basic guidelines need to be established. The need to recognize and appropriately classify inmates is of the utmost importance. I propose a classification system that divides incarcerated persons into three categories:

  • Category 1: Non-violent first and second time offenders,
  • Category 2: non-violent career criminals (surplus of two prior arrests), and
  • Category 3: violent offenders.

The goal of this system is to be able to appropriately sentence, house, and supervise offenders. Accompanying the inmate categories will be facility categories: Category 1 would be minimum/medium security work-houses, Category 2 is medium/close security correctional institutions, and category 3 is close/maximum security correctional facilities. In order to effectively and efficiently provide rehabilitative services, we must adhere to a systematic approach in which classification is the crux of the program.

Once a person is arrested for a crime, they will either be released on their own recognizance by the police officer or brought to the county jail. Once at the jail, the individual will be put through a battery of questions, background checks, and receive a final “score.” This score will be used in order to place the individual in appropriate housing.

A numerical system will be utilized in which 2 points will be earned for each prior non-violent arrest in the individual’s past (10 years), 2 points earned for the individual’s present non-violent arrest, 3-7 points (depending on crime) for past violent arrests, and 3-7 points for present violent arrest. Also included in the battery will be the individual’s behavior during the arrest and booking process (1-4 points) and the influence of illicit drugs and/or intoxicants (1-4 points).

The system will allow for individuals with 0-6 points to be eligible for the minimum/medium security work-house, 7-13 points to be eligible for the medium/close security correctional institution and anything over 13 points to be eligible for maximum security correctional institution.

The purpose of this, obviously, is to indulge the ideals of liberal philosophy by focusing on restorative justice and rehabilitation while appeasing conservatives by operationalizing maximum security housing and sanctions for those who do not want to cooperate. My ambition is to correct and reintegrate those who are capable of positive change and to incapacitate those who are unable to adapt, learn, or imitate normal society.

If state corrections was uniform, we would be able to segregate offenders by their criminal behavior, initiate a step-down process, incapacitate individuals who are resistant to positive change, and assist those who are willing and able to be productive members of society.

Cities, jails and prisons would have the same management, guidelines, and oversight. We could successfully monitor offenders with minimal inconsistencies, no loss of information, and conceptualize the same goals. Inmates would have a harder time manipulating the system and they would also be afforded the luxury of being treated the same regardless of which facility they were housed in (and at which level: local or state). A focus on restorative justice could stimulate local corrections, provide services to the community, and allow for inmates to better themselves. Leading back to rehabilitation, the community will benefit from every individual who is both not incarcerated and is paying taxes. Conversely, those who simply cannot be rehabilitated will endure a system that is harsh, controls all movement, and assumes total control of insubordinate and uncooperative individuals.

I believe that implementing a system such as this will inspire cooperation, uniformity, and a fair distribution of justice amongst the states. Offering incentives for good behavior and discipline for bad behavior is paramount to classical conditioning and should prove most effective when dealing with a non-law-abiding population. I will expand more on what to do with inmates with excessively long sentences in my next article; but, for now, please consider this universal approach to corrections. We have the opportunity to maximize the positives while suppressing the negatives.

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