chapter  4
26 Pages

Community-based Alternatives

But renewed emphasis on the harsher sentencing practices of the justice model has provided a false sense of security. On the one hand, it was anticipated that potential offenders would think twice before engaging in crime if they knew the severity with which they would be punished. Moreover, even if would-be offenders were not deterred by the threat of punishment (and most were not), there was satisfaction in knowing that incapacitation would prevent further involvement in crime during the period of confinement. Quite true; also quite shortsighted. Upon release, offenders are returning to the very place they came from-free society. How secure are we in the belief that, having been exposed to the debilitating effects of prison life and now stigmatized as ex-offenders, they will make the dramatic changes necessary to become law-abiding citizens? If the answer is “Not very,” then community-based approaches assume greater significance in achieving the goals of the justice system. This does not mean that community corrections is a panacea for solving the crime problem. But, even if a community-based approach does not do anything to improve offenders, at least it

is not doing anything to worsen them. It is highly unlikely that the same could be said of incarceration.