For more than four decades various nations, especially the United States, have aggressively pursued anti-crime policies that have significantly increased the number of offenders incarcerated.
Although violent crime gains the public’s attention, the vast majority of crime is non-violent. Community corrections organizations advocate for and provide options for judicial sanctions to be executed in conjunction with appropriate programming that is consistent with the offender’s level of risk. Offering programming and interventions based on the individual’s criminogenic needs and level of risk have been proven to reduce the likelihood that an individual will engage in criminal behavior. The International Community Corrections Association takes a leadership role in helping to shape public opinion about crime and community corrections.
ICCA member agencies operate community-based programs serving all levels of the corrections continuum. ICCA members work both in the private sector and in government thus allowing their respective operations to be flexible and broad-based in approach.
The mission of community corrections is to maintain public safety; create safer communities, and supervise offenders in community-based settings that are in close proximity to the homes of the clients and families being served. By allowing offenders to remain in the community while completing their sanctions, offenders are able to work, participate in needed treatment services, and fulfill their financial obligations to their families and the community at large. Today’s community corrections systems offer a graduated system of supervision options for offenders within community settings that provide offenders the opportunity for positive, prosocial behavioral change.
To be effective, community corrections systems and services must play an integral role in a jurisdiction’s sentencing structure and in public safety and reentry efforts. Community corrections is an important facet of the criminal justice system and contributes in multiple ways to the desired outcomes for criminal justice.
III. STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
- A composite community corrections sentence should be no more severe than is necessary to achieve societal goals and meet accountability requirements for the public safety concerns of the community.
- Community corrections is usually a more effective and appropriate punishment than incarceration for non-violent offenders.
- Incarceration should be reserved for violent, predatory and very serious offenders who pose a safety risk to the public.
- The least restrictive and least costly means of sanctioning offenders should be implemented consistent with public safety needs.
- Offenders in community corrections should be held accountable for their behavior by incurring proportionate sanctions as a result of their actions. Programming and treatment, including should be commensurate with risk level and criminal risk factors.
- Victim reparation and restoration, community service, education and employment should be an integral part of any community corrections system.
- Inmates should be gradually transitioned to society upon release from prison to reduce their likelihood of returning to a life of crime.
- To help reduce and prevent future crime in offenders’ families, at-risk children and families should be an integral component of an effective reintegration/reentry system.
- Community corrections should help reduce the criminal risk factors that contribute to crime (e.g. values, antisocial peers, substance abuse, illiteracy, lack of marketable skills, unemployment) and increase the resiliency factors that help prevent crime (e.g. drug-free lifestyle, education, employment, cognitive restructuring and social skills training, and family support).
- Community corrections should collaborate with mental health, public health, substance abuse, family and children services, education and employment systems through public and private partnerships.
- A comprehensive approach to reducing crime must include the active involvement of the public and private sectors and the development of a shared vision. Crime is a complex community problem that will require an integrated, multi-faceted approach to reduce and prevent it. The public and private sectors will need to develop partnerships to control and prevent crime and to expand the number and type of correctional supervision options. To increase these comprehensive approaches, government agencies at all levels should provide incentives to build creative partnerships.
- To ensure the effectiveness of community corrections, an on-going monitoring and evaluation system must be a part of each program. A variety of performance measures in addition to recidivism should be developed to evaluate the effectiveness of community corrections.
Reviewed and approved by the ICCA Board of Directors
Date: September 13, 2014