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Which is more effective - punishment by imprisonment or with in the community?

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Introduction

WHICH IS MORE EFFECTIVE - PUNISHMENT BY IMPRISOMENT OR WITHIN THE COMMUNITY? Student Number: 266648 The National Probation Service is an organisation within the criminal justice system that works with offenders on and before their release from prison and also as a monitoring service for offenders who have not been given a custodial sentence. The roots of the probation service go back to the nineteenth century where clergy members took responsibility for young offenders to prevent them entering the prison system. Many changes have been made over the years, moving from the 'advise, assist and befriend' notion to the present day position of enforcement. Prison has an important role to play in protecting the community against the most dangerous offenders and in punishing the most serious crimes. But research and experience have shown the many disadvantages of over using imprisonment. Imprisonment can harm the chances people have to make amends and fulfil their potential as citizens when released back into the community. By definition prison limits the opportunities people have to contribute to civil society and democratic life. In theory, prison could provide its captive audience with decent education, training and employment opportunities. With one or two notable exceptions in the form of resettlement prisons, such opportunities are not provided on anything like the scale required. Most prisoners therefore leave prison no better equipped to fit into society than when they entered it. ...read more.

Middle

the probation officer has to enforce the order and send them back to Court for reassessment, which could result in them being sent to prison instead. Community punishment makes demands on offenders' time, makes specific expectations of engagement and behaviour backed up by breach. Rigorous community programmes can be more challenging and demanding than a short prison sentence where nothing is expected of the offender. National Standards set out the required frequency of contact between supervising officer and offender and action to be taken in cases of unacceptable failure to comply. Many members of the public of course believe prisons to be the most effective form of punishment for offenders but the following are accounts from prisoners and offenders on community punishment. In the journal Criminal Justice Matters, an anonymous account was written by a UK prisoner serving five and a half years entitled Prison: A view from the inside. The next two quotes taken from this article help to demonstrate the hopelessness prisoners feel, what is missing from the system and highlights possible advantages to serving a community sentence. "Prolonged prison makes future criminality more viable - detachment from social groups, institutionalisation, eroding of self-esteem all impact the already reduced alternatives of an ex-con" "Beyond the punishment of prison, true reform depends on helping resolve personal problems, providing useful skills/training for real jobs and support beyond the gate... dumping offenders outside with everything lost and nothing to offer but a criminal record to employers only perpetuates crime". (Pg 24 -25) ...read more.

Conclusion

Since then, the most effective community supervision programmes have been shown to reduce offending 15% more than a prison sentence. As has been demonstrated, community punishments are often just as 'hard to do' and sometimes harder as the offender is made to address their behaviour head on, rather than languishing in a prison cell surrounded by other offenders passing on their knowledge - a school of crime and disorder? So in response to the question of which is more effective - Imprisonment or Community Punishment the answer must be they are both as effective as each other depending on the individual offenders and their crime, because just as nobody fits in the same shoe, no one punishment can be the most effective solution for every offender, and people should be and are evaluated individually on conviction to ensure the best option for him or her is the sentence handed out. * Anonymous, (Summer 2003), Prison: A view from the inside, Criminal Justice Matters (Vol. 52, pp 24-25) * Home Office Press Release, (28 Oct 2003) Enhancing Community Punishment, reference: 290/2003. [On-Line]: Available: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/pageprint.asp?item_id=659 * Maguire, J., (1995) What works: Reducing re-offending. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. * McIvor, G., (1992) Sentenced to Serve: Operation and impact of community service by offenders. Avebury * NPS 2001, A New Choreography. London Home Office * Rossendale, P. In his own words: the probationer (2003, April 27) The Observer. * RSA Lectures, (2003) The Rethinking Crime and Punishment debate, [On-line Transcript] Available: www.theRSA.org * Williams, B., (1995), Probation Values. Birmingham: Venture Press. http://www.rethinking.org.uk/facts/docs/alternatives_to_prison.doc Created by: 266648 1 ...read more.

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