Criminal Justice Sample Essay


Write a 500- to 750-word research project in which you outline the various processes of jails, prisons, probation, parole, juvenile and community corrections. In your research paper, be sure to address the following as it pertains to correctional systems:

Evaluate past, present, and future trends pertaining to the development and operation of institutional and community based corrections.



Introduction. 2

Past Trends. 2

Present Trends. 3

Future Trends. 3

Conclusion. 4

References. 6

Processes of Jails, Prisons, Probation, Parole, Juvenile and Community Corrections


            Correctional systems have been in existence since the early days of social organization among humankind. In America, the department of corrections has been in existence since the nation’s founding, and it has continued to undergo numerous amendments as a way of ensuring that it reflects on the views, values and principles held by members of society. As a component of the criminal justice system, corrections refers not just to the system of jails and prisons but also the operations of community-based programs such as parole, probation, juvenile detention, halfway houses and treatment facilities (Stinchomb, 2005). It can be noted that past, present and future trends relating to the establishment and operations of institutional and community-based corrections vary across states. However, this does not necessarily undermine the fact that the department of corrections has developed and progressed substantially over time since its inception back in the early 1800s. As such, this paper will focus primarily on these trends and how effective they are in combating arising issues such as cost, recidivism and overpopulation in the correctional facilities.


Past Trends

            For a long time in the American history, prisons and jails alike leaned towards the solitary confinement of all offenders while disregarding the aspect of rehabilitation. This trend more often than not resulted in an increase in the country’s criminal population as well as recidivism. Society demanded that criminals be punished for their crimes; thus, their well-being was never considered as a primary concern. It can be argued that the views held by society played a significant role in molding and restructuring harsh sentences as opposed to vouching for more sound measures that were concerned with rehabilitation as opposed to retribution and punishment (Stinchomb, 2005). However, as asserted by Muraskin and Robert (2009), such practices had a negative impact on correctional facilities in that they exerted insurmountable pressure and often led to overcrowding. This can be attributed to the fact that society was overly conservative and held the view that imprisonment was the most prudent and effective way of dealing with criminal activity. Over time, this trend was overwhelming criticized as being ineffectual given that it played a primary role in increased recidivism across America.

Present Trends

            A major trend today entails the use of community-based corrections. In this approach, focus is on rehabilitation of offenders. Johnson et al. (1994) assert that the current increase in prison populations and criminality has compelled the criminal justice system to shift towards more versatile punishment measures that place a lot of emphasis on addressing the growing pressure on scarce resources allocated to the corrections department. In this regard, incorporating community-based corrections has emerged as an amicable solution. It has helped in reducing the level of overcrowding to a great extent. Furthermore, sound partnerships between institutions and community-based offender rehabilitation organizations are playing a vital role in reducing overcrowding in prisons (Mandeville, 2005). This approach has proved to be quite successful in encompassing aspects of both punishment and rehabilitation.


Future Trends

As managers of corrections facilities look into the future, they are keen to look into ways of punishing and rehabilitating offenders that will take into account both trivial and serious crimes. Accordingly, various scholars hold different views on what the future will look like in the department of corrections. For instance, Stinchomb (2005), claims that the trends that will most likely have an impact on corrections in the future will include some aspects of restorative justice, direct supervision, unit management strategies and intermediate sentencing alternatives. On the other hand, Mandeville (2005) states that technologies such as satellite tracking and drug testing devices are going to take center stage in all corrections departments of the future. Undoubtedly, technological inventions will help corrections managers to produce quality work in addition to cutting down on costs. The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a report that outlines some of the data-driven mechanisms and strategies that emerging states will adopt in the near future and whose overall effectiveness will be measured in terms of recidivism and crime reduction (Lawrence, 2013). Additionally, the report documents several trends that will address the recurring issue of rising costs and overpopulation in prisons and correctional institutions. Such measures include adjusting sentences for trivial and drug-related crimes to make room for more serious offenders, responding to probation and parole violations to monitor instances of recidivism and improving community supervision (Lawrence, 2013).


            It is quite evident that the trends in the criminal justice systems have continued to influence the development and operations of community-based and institutional corrections. Punitive laws that emphasize strict sentencing, punishment, and retribution are at the core of growing problem of prison population which continues to exert pressure on the administrators of correctional facilities. Thus, the use of alternative sentencing as suggested by Stinchomb (2005) will oversee the reduction of population in prisons and consequently lessen the high correctional costs states continue to incur. However, caution should be exercised while adopting new measures, concepts and programs to avoid limiting future progress and constricting room adaptation to emerging trends in criminality dynamics. Essentially, the measures adopted should be flexible enough to accommodate future legislative, technological and administrative improvements.


Johnson, W., Dunaway, R., Burton Jr., V. S., Marquart, J. W., Cuvelier, S. J. (1994). The goals of community-based corrections: An analysis of state legal codes. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 18(1), 79-93.

Lawrence, A. (2013). Trends in sentencing and corrections: State legislation. National Conference of State Legislatures, August, 1, 2013.

Muraskin, R. & Roberts. A.R. (2009). Visions for change: Crime and justice in the twenty-first century, (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Mandeville, M. (2005). Community corrections reflections: A look at the past, present and future of the field. Web.

Stinchomb, J. B. (2005). Corrections: Past, present and future. London: Routledge.

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