Community Corrections

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Community corrections is a range of alternative punishments for nonviolent offenders. There are two basic community corrections models in the United States. In the first model, integrated community corrections programs combine sentencing guidelines and judicial discretion ("front-end") with a variety of alternative sanctions and parole and probation options. In the second model, some states have instituted programs in which correctional officials may direct already sentenced offenders into alternative sanction programs and parole and probation options ("back-end"). Both models are designed to help reduce prison overcrowding and are less expensive alternatives to prison. Widespread development of community correction programs in the United States began in the late 1970's as a way to offer offenders, especially those leaving jail or prison, residential services in halfway houses. The first state community correction programs began in Oregon, Colorado, and Minnesota as pilot projects with very little government-funded support. They diverted nonviolent offenders in selected pilot project areas from jails and state prisons into local alternative punishment programs. The programs were referred to as "front-end" sentencing because they allowed judges to sentence offenders to a community-based punishment rather than jail or prison. Rehabilitation programs were the preferred punishment option. In the late 1980's, prison systems across the country began experiencing serious overcrowding of facilities. The overcrowding served as a catalyst for lawmakers to develop new options for sentencing criminal offenders. Nineteen states have now enacted various community correction programs. Community correction programs provide many communities with local punishment options as an alternative to prison or jail. These sanction programs are lower cost alternatives to increased prison and jail construction, based on the cost per offender. They provide local courts, state departments...
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