Source: (1997) Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance

Further increases in the use of prisons and jails are not only ineffective for many offenders, but also very costly. Prisons and jails are inappropriate for some offenders and should be used only for select cases to ensure the availability of prisons and jails as sanctions for serious criminality. The increasing use and improvement of community correctional options may be the most effective answer. Many examples of community corrections programs that achieve a full range of sentencing purposes, such as incapacitation, deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, and restorative justice, are discussed. The emphasis is on focusing all community resources on preventing crime, rehabilitating the offender, and involving the community and victims in this process. Community corrections has matured since the early days as alternative sentences to prison to rehabilitate criminals. Many States have developed community corrections programs premised on research, the experience of criminal justice leaders, and the recognition by elected officials that such programs are cost-effective. Criminal justice agencies must have the training and staff to manage offenders in the community in order to address the needs of diverse populations in State and local governments. When using screening, assessment, education, treatment, and other effective techniques, community corrections can deliver safe and effective services. Policy makers need to provide resources for research, data collection, and cost measures to assure that community corrections programs remain effective. The appropriate use and improvement of community corrections tools allows the public and criminal justice decision makers to understand better the necessity of intelligent and tolerable risk. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.