Category: Literature
Alternatives to Prison

The book addresses the problem of incarceration and other related issues in the crime-controlling unit. It looks at different alternatives to prison and the positive and negative effects of employing them when controlling crimes and recidivism. The author seeks to identify different policies, which are not effective and do not function properly in the American prison system. The rate of recidivism can be reduced through adequate counseling in American prisons. America’s correctional facilities are responsible for producing second-class citizens through conviction without devising means of retransforming them into responsible people. According to the book, education is one of the solutions to the problem of reducing recidivism in America, since most convicts are either illiterate or semi-literate, which leave a lot to be desired of the correctional system. It is impossible to believe that prisoners are expected to secure themselves a job. The author states that ex-convicts are sometimes denied housing services, loans, or driving licenses, and it is the reason why they end up being second-class citizens. Therefore, the thesis of the book revolves around the fact that it is possible to fight and control crimes using alternative methods of keeping convicts in jail. The illustration of how the ones operate and can achieve the aim of fighting crime effectively is important in driving the idea of the American prison system’s flaws home.

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There are numerous alternatives to incarceration, the use of which can prove to be much cheaper and effective in reducing and controlling crimes in America. For example, drug abusers can be allowed to live normal lives while attending drug-counseling sessions with close supervision of the court. It can be the case with other crimes, whereby convicts can be confined at home, fined, and/or attend mental-counseling sessions. According to the author, punishments can yield better fruits in controlling crimes as opposed to jail terms. It saves the government resources and time used in keeping prisoners behind bars. Other merits of punishments, as opposed to jail terms, include saving money paid by taxpayers and investing it elsewhere. It also provides courts with a variety of sentencing options, which address every offense in a unique manner. It helps in protecting the public and enhancing rehabilitation services and centers in America.

Drug courts were among the most useful government facilities, which fight drug abuse and offenses, are special branches of the court system, which address different substance abusers and offenses. In several states, they have departments for juveniles and adults and call for offenders to complete tests and treatment. It helps to provide the offender with the appropriate recovering. Other offenses, like sexual ones, can be addressed through the probation of a criminal under control of an officer, who ensures that the person does not access the Internet. Offenders are given cognitive therapy and guidance lessons that help them correct their behavior and mental disorders.

Changing conventional prisons by making adjustments in monitoring systems can contribute greatly to improving them. Fences and numerous guards can save a lot of money spent on installation and maintenance. Training convicts to become lawful citizens, as opposed to law-breakers and ruthless people, can control crimes and reduce the ones incredibly. Although these changes are radical, they will be registered on the U.S. criminal records eventually. According to the book, the HOPE system is another way of controlling crimes as opposed to incarceration. It initially gives a warning in a court and probation, and if offenders violate the latter, they are subjected to imprisonment. The HOPE formula reduces the violation of probations and molds offenders by controlling access to drugs and providing compulsory treatment for drug-abusers. It also instills a sense of responsibility in criminals, since they have to appear before a judge at the set regular time.


The book aims at pointing the shortcomings of American correctional facilities and their management out in regard to fighting and controlling crime. These departments are faced with the problem of alternative methods of correcting lawbreakers and offenders. The author further provides alternatives to the ways of managing and controlling criminals while instilling a sense of responsibility and lawfulness. The American jail system is painted as one, which is full of flaws and inefficiencies in reducing the recidivism rate in the USA. The system is blamed for producing ex-convicts, who are not mentally free from resorting to crime again, due to the circumstances that have faced them in jail. The latter include close monitoring and the surveillance system, which do not provide a room to exercise responsibility but controls people’s actions and movements closely. Prisoners feel like being a threat to society, and their psychological set-up fails to develop a sense of responsibility and good citizenship. The opportunities offered after completing their jail term are also humiliating, and they are denied most of the public services provided to other citizens. Thus, this book encourages the American government to reflect on the demerits of the system and as a result focus on the alternatives provided by the author. This shift in correctional policies will not only be effective but cost-saving in relation to government expenditures. Bargains in terms of state funds will be channeled to other state development projects while assisting law-breakers in rehabilitation.


The theme of the book is based on the methods that can be used to eradicate and control crimes in America as opposed to jail terms. It is relevant today, when prisons are a hub for gangs, and when numerous youths are recruited by different criminal groups in order to survive in and out if prison. Alternative solutions to fighting and eliminating crimes, like drug courts, community corrections, sanctions, rehabilitation, and the Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) among others, are inclusive in the theme of the book. The latter insists on alternative ways of controlling crimes, which will be long-term and the most efficient.

The book systematically elaborates steps that should be taken to carry out alternative crime-controlling techniques and possible outcomes of the same. It eliminates the chances of doubt on the effectiveness of each method. The author also highlights the American jail correction method of fighting and controlling crime and its shortcomings. The fact that it evidently produces “second-class citizens” is emphasized. The book discloses its failures in molding convicts and ex-convicts, which should be given a better attitude.

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Another theme is recidivism and the ways of reducing its rates in the entire American community. Among important points concerning this issue, there is watering down of electronic monitoring in preventing ex-convicts from repeating crimes. Statistics given by reliable sources indicate that prisons, which operate with prisoners’ electronic tags, have criminals repeating similar or different crimes. It is a security concern of the neighborhoods of these convicts after they complete their jail term. Electronic tags are not effective owing to the fact that most bearers are criminals convicted of major crimes that include child rape, robbery with violence, and murders among others. As much as electronic tags are viewed as a scheme aimed to enable ex-convicts to fit into society, they should be coupled with rehabilitation in order to fully develop positive thinking in offenders.


Despite the fact that the American crime control sector has invested heavily in prisons to control the rate of criminals, a lot should be done based on the arguments presented in this book. There is an underlying problem, and its solution concerns changing the current correctional system. The book criticizes the latter due to high recidivism rates in America, and the lives led by convicts after prison. The author has presented examples of failures of the jail system in correcting lawbreakers. Life after prison is very important both for individuals and the state at large. Thus, prior preparation for ex-convicts is important. However, the current system is to blame for hardships experienced by ex-convicts, and the state is worsened by the denial to access public housing facilities, driving licenses, and others. It puts ex-convicts in a situation of desperation and negative self-image, and they in turn resort to crimes, which they are used to. Recidivism is caused by the need to survive and psychological illness, which can lead to engagement in worse crimes.

Punishing and managing drug offenders through drug courts is an alternative to incarceration, which allows a lawbreaker to present him/herself before the judge at a certain time and to be rehabilitated. Regular drug tests are taken, and punctual subsequent court presentations help a drug addict become a responsible citizen and recover from his or her addiction. Therefore, the effects of these alternatives are more permanent and functional as opposed to incarceration. In some cases, a drug court wards and even praises offenders, who successfully comply. Such rewards and praises work positively for psychology and encourage the offender to put more efforts into avoiding troubles with the law. It is one aspect that American prisons lack putting criminals behind bars as long as their term lasts, and later releasing them to the world without being psychologically equipped.


The concept regarding the issue of incarceration and its demerits has been clearly elaborated by the author in the book, and the duty to make a commendable change in the correction system lies squarely on the shoulders of the government. It will be achieved through the enhancement of other forms of punishments and correctional methods. As it has been mentioned earlier, it will reduce the amount of money spent on jails to monitor convicts and prevent prison breaks. These resources can be alternatively used for other projects, which will benefit the American community and the world at large.

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