Court Reform research

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Criminology

Document 1

The fixing of social life and making it fair cannot happen without bringing about various reforms in the institutions that decide and resolve conflicts between people. One of the means through which improvements can be brought about in the courts is by reducing and eliminating the high recidivism rates in the country. Recidivism is the process whereby an offender is bound to repeat the same undesirable behavior that led to his/her imprisonment after being released from jail. Recidivism possesses a significant challenge to the criminal justice system for the goal of the courts is to guarantee that they reduce the likelihood of an individual committing a future criminal act through sentencing and punishment. However, once the courts cannot overcome this probability, it will make the public to lose trust in them and doubt their ability to bring social order Recidivism also has adverse outcomes to public safety and leads to an increased incarceration cost due to prison crowding.

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It is at this point that the commission began conducting studies related to recidivism in the USA that had become rampant in the nation. At the time, the USA had witnessed an increased prison number, and the information on recidivism was critical to the core purposes of punishment levied by the court which is deterring any incident of future criminal behaviors. The commission conducted a study on 25,431 federal prison released and placed on probation in the year 2005 (United States Sentencing Commission). These offenders had initially been imprisoned in 1991 and the first quarter of the 2006 fiscal year. According to the report’s findings, they found out that offenders with a zero criminal history had a recidivism rate of 30. (243) note that the highest rates of incarceration exist among the drug possession offenders.

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According to a study on 12 judges from Chicago, they stated that prior offenders incarcerated due to drug-related charges had a 90% higher likelihood of being rearrested (Ormachea et al. , 243) One of the techniques used in eliminating recidivism has been increasing the length of prison sentences. Mears et al. (83) state that the USA has over the years ensured that the offenders serve more time based on the belief that the more time one has in prison, the higher the deterrence effects it will have. According to Berenji et al. the severity of criminal punishment in the USA has been on the increase in the USA since the 1970s. The USA has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and as of 2007, the nation spends more than $74 billion to fund the criminal justice system.

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The rates of recidivism in the USA vary depending on the various crimes committed and in case of drug and property-related offenses, the proportions are 70% higher within three years. The high recidivism rates have begun mounting pressure on the correction agencies and law enforcement as they contribute towards higher prison numbers and increased incarceration costs. The researchers found out that more than half of the offenders were re-arrested less than two years later. It is an indication that the incarceration period has an impact on the recidivism rate. According to Turner and Joan (213), more than 400,000 criminal offenders released from the USA prison. However, out of these, within three years, more than 40% will be re-arrested. To curb the increasing recidivism rates, the USA implemented work release programs among others.

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Additionally, recent studies indicate that recidivism has negative financial implications to the taxpayers and also affects public safety (Ormachea et al. , 243; Berenji et al. ; Fazel and Achim). This is consistent with a similar study conducted in 1996 that recidivism has enormous impacts on the incarceration costs, in this case, the work release program costs have continued t balloon (Turner and Joan 160). To eliminate recidivism, policies have been passed to increase the incarceration period. The drug court model is used in countries such as Macedonia, Italy, Scotland, Jamaica, Canada, and Australia, and the nations have minimum recidivism rates as compared to the USA. According to a smile study similar by the National Institute of Justice in Multnomah County drug court in Portland, Oregon, it found out that after an introduction of a drug court in the region, the re-arrested linked to felony crimes decline from 40% to 12% within a 2 year period (National Institute of Justice).

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Therefore, there is a need to introduce more drug courts around all the 50 states in the USA. This should see every state having adequate drug courts depending on the size, overall population and number of incarcerated offenders. Reform Plan Challenges Relevance vs. Judicial capacity and specialization The judges in the drug courts do not have the awareness and skills that can help those direct rulings towards a public health methodology rather than punitive justice one. In most cases, judges have the skills and ability to preside cases over people who have committed offenses but cannot offer therapeutic apparatuses needed in drug court proceedings. Benefits of Reform Implementation Recidivism has negative impacts on public safety. This is an indication that, once an offender is released back into society, there are higher chances of him/her committing a crime.

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