Daniel Patrick Downen MS AJ/S: Restorative Justice: Transforming Corrections

As a component of public safety the Departments of Corrections have for years held to the notion that “tough on crime” involves an effective system of incarceration and that this alone would address any and all issues we have with societal crime. The standing belief by many administrators and the public was that the punitive aspects of incarceration would deter further crime and effectively hold offenders accountable for their decision to commit crime.

 

Through education and research we have since come to understand that there is, in fact, much causation that contributes to crime. That ones’ decision to commit crime is influenced by many sociological and psychological determinants. However, society in general has not been educated to the complexities of crime and still clings to the concept that incarceration alone is sufficient to address criminal behavior. Many conclude that any treatment programming for offenders is not “tough on crime” as it makes prison more tolerable or less punitive. Additionally the thought is, why should we give convicted felons all these services for free while hard working law abiding people have to pay for them. This has been the error in thinking for decades.

 

As a result, we are now faced with out of control overcrowding due to enormous rates of recidivism. Corrections in many states are one of the largest budgeted agencies and we are not getting the most return for our public safety investment dollars. The level of public safety is greatly reduced as tax dollar expenditures greatly increase. We simply cannot afford to keep re-processing and incarcerating the same offenders over and over…