Correctional Treatment

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The United States correctional system supervises over six million convicted offenders in rehabilitation programs a day. There are approximately two million in jail who receive rehabilitation treatment and four million are on parole or probation. With so many people under its control, a central policy issue is what the correctional system hopes to accomplish with those it places behind bars or on community supervision. A simple response might be that the purpose of these correctional sanctions is to "punish" the criminally wayward. Since the inception of the American penitentiary in the 1820s, however, corrections has embraced as an important goal the transformation of law breakers into the law-abiding—that is, "rehabilitation" or "treatment."

While probation and parole are both considered community corrections and involve supervision in the community, they differ in other respects. Probation is a sentencing option available to local judges. Convicted offenders are released by the court to serve a sentence under court-imposed conditions for a specified period. It is considered an alternative to incarceration. In most cases the entire probation sentence is served under supervision in the community. The court retains the authority to supervise, modify conditions, cancel probation and resentence if the probationer violates the terms of probation. The responsible agency for overseeing probation can be either state or local. There are currently more than two thousand separate probation agencies in the United States.

There are many types of programs offered to offenders which fit their type of crime. Some of these programs are designed for substance abusers, sex offenders, those whose requires educational counseling, and also programs that teach life skills. Substance abuse rehabilitation happens when the offender undergoes counseling for a dependence on a physically addictive substance, such as drugs or alcohol. Usually, rehabilitation is assigned to those...
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