To Jail, or Not to Jail…

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A new study conducted by The Pew Center sheds light on how much States spend to house inmates in correctional facilities.  The study also asks the questions: Do certain crimes really warrant jail time?  Can punishment for non-violent crimes be left up to the community instead cutting costs significantly?  These are very intriguing questions which I’m sure impels much debate among those in the criminal justice field. 

If sentencing laws were changed so that less offenders ended up serving jail time, how might this affect the offenders’ ability to obtain work?  Is there less stigma attached to offenders that are sentenced to probation or electronic monitoring than those who carry out their sentence in jail? 

For example:  You have two applicants with disorderly conduct convictions on their background check.  One of those applicants was sentenced to 10 days in jail.  The other was sentenced to 6 months probation and 30 hours of community service.  Does the applicant that didn’t spend time in the slammer seem more appealing because of the way society looks at those who have been incarcerated?  Or do you look at them the same way because of the type of crime committed, disregarding the sentencing?  I would love to hear some HR professionals’ opinions on this one!

Cost of locking up Americans too high: Pew study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One in every 31 U.S. adults is in the corrections system, which includes jail, prison, probation and supervision, more than double the rate of a quarter century ago, according to a report released on Monday by the Pew Center on the States. 

The study, which said the current rate compares to one in 77 in 1982, concluded that with declining resources, more emphasis should be put on community supervision, not jail or prison. 

“Violent and career criminals need to be locked up, and for a long time. But our research shows that prisons are housing too many people who can be managed safely and held accountable in the community at far lower cost,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Center’s Public Safety Performance Project, which produced the report. 

The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the biggest prison population of any country in the world, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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