It is hard to disagree that various crimes have always been an integral part of people’s lives. Therefore, in order to protect citizens who follow the law from those who break it, the criminal justice system and the judicial branch were created. When there is a need to punish a criminal, numerous options are available, and it may be confusing for an ordinary person to distinguish between them. The purpose of this essay is to get a closer understanding of some criminal justice concepts, including intermediate sanctions, prisons, jails, and the role of probation and parole officers.
Intermediate sanctions may be understood by closer examination of their name. In other words, they are called ‘intermediate’ because they stand between other forms of punishment (Homant, 2014). Thus, they are stricter than fines and probation but less severe than more traditional sanctions like imprisonment or death. Intermediate sanctions include, for instance, boot camp, electronic monitoring, and intensive supervision (Homant, 2014). This type of punishment offers numerous advantages both for society and criminals. First, such measures allow punishing the criminal but avoid overcrowding in prisons. The offender continues to be a part of the community, does not feel alienated, and has more chances to change.
Further, the role of probation and parole officers cannot be overestimated. Generally, they monitor the behavior and activities of paroled and probationary criminals outside the prison. The officers are responsible for disciplining and supervising those offenders who have received a chance to complete a probation or parole program (Maryville University, n.d.). Since they need to follow strict rules, it is the role of the officers to help them do that promptly and successfully. Further, as noticed by Walsh (1985), “probation officers’ recommendations have a substantial direct effect on actual sentences” (para. 1). As highly professional agents of individualization, they offer their views and recommendations regarding the criminals.
As for the U.S. prisons, they are an effective measure of punishing that faces some challenges today. First of all, prisons are overcrowded, which is why the need for other, no less efficient means of punishment increases. Further, considering the current situation, COVID-19 is a severe problem for prisons (Chamberlain, 2020). Third, it is vital to consider the staff’s mental health – currently, the number of prison workers who have mental issues is growing (Chamberlain, 2020). Finally, another concern is inmate violence and staff safety – sometimes, it is quite challenging to prevent fights and ensure that both workers and offenders are safe and cannot harm each other.
Finally, it is also essential to discuss the role jails play in American corrections. Prisons and jails actually differ, and the latter is transient. Some people in jails “have been charged with crimes but not convicted,” while some “are waiting to pay bail to be released until trial or can’t afford bail” (Flagg & Neff, 2020, para. 7). Therefore, jails are significant as they allow to control such persons but not to overcrowd prisons. As for the issues jails face today, they are somewhat similar to the concerns faced by prisons.
To draw a conclusion, one may say that the criminal justice system concepts are quite interesting, and their exploration may provide insights into how the system works and whether it is effective. It is rather noticeable that the role of intermediate sanctions cannot be overestimated – they allow to punish those people whose crime is not very dangerous or severe. Further, probation and parole officers’ responsibilities are also quite important for the system. As for the prisons, it is essential to consider the mentioned concerns they face.
Chamberlain, M. (2020). The challenges facing jails and prisons in 2021. Corrections1.
Flagg, N., & Neff, J. (2020). Why jails are so important in the fight against coronavirus. The Marshall Project.
Homant, R. J. (2014). “Intermediate sanctions.” In Arrington, C. B., Blowers, A. N., Brennan, P. K., Brewster, M. P., Bumgarner, J. B., Cencich, J. R., Cordner, A. M., Dodge, M., Joseph, J., Kurlychek, M. C., McConnell, A. H., Nasheri, H., Roth, M. P., & Schneider, J. L. (eds.), The encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice. Wiley Online Library.
Maryville University. (n.d.). Probation vs. parole officer: What makes them different?
Walsh, A. (1985). The role of the probation officer in the sentencing process: Independent professional or judicial hack? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 12(3), 289–303.