Letter to the Commissioner of the Correctional Services of Canada
Dear Sir/ Madam,
Offender rehabilitation in Canada is a field within the criminal justice system that has had a resurgence of public interest in the recent past. This is attributed to the international findings of emergent research that affirm that rehabilitation programs are instrumental in reducing the soaring rates of re offending. In Canada, these programs account for a very small percentage of the federal budget. Notably, this has contributed to under funding has had far reaching implications on the effective functioning of these programs. For instance, it has undermined quality service delivery in the sector which in return contributed to a rise in re offending cases. In order to counter this scenario and enhance effective rehabilitation of offenders, it is imperative for the concerned stakeholders to allocate more funds for these programs.
Essentially rehabilitation programs seek to provide the offenders with vital programs as well as opportunities for social, occupational, cultural, educational, personal and spiritual development. This is in a bid to enable them to avoid incidences of involvement in crime and develop in to law abiding individuals. This can only be achieved if the programs are tailored to suit the emergent and diversified needs of the offenders. To begin with, Beech and Fisher (2002, p. 204) indicate that offender population has increased and become more dynamic and diversified with respect to the frequency and nature of crimes that are committed. Statistical evidence shows that sex offenders and offenders committing technological crimes are increasingly entering the system.
This has further been aggravated by a significant drop in the cases that are accorded parole and an increase in the number of offenders being accorded long term and/ or life sentences. In return, this has had negative implications on the limited institutional capacity as well as facilities found therein. Notably, the relevant authorities have undertaken various temporary measures to ease the situation. Among them has been construction of temporary structures to facilitate rehabilitation programs and transferring of offenders to other regions. This has had adverse impacts because of the fact that not all institutions have effective rehabilitation programs. Most importantly, Andrew and Bonta (1998) posit that continued overcrowding is likely to culminate in incidences of increased tension amongst the offenders, increased risk of infections and increased incidences of insecurity. In addition, it is indicated that this reduces the morale of the staff that then leads to poor service delivery.
It can not be disputed that the long term effects of these conditions are very detrimental and can cost the country not only its resources but also its worth. According to McGuire (2000), the most viable countermeasure to this is to decongest the institutions and equip the same with sufficient vital facilities as well as professional staff to effectively cater for these emergent needs. Practical measures would include building more modern rehabilitation and correctional centers as well as distributing the same across the country. Seemingly, this can not be achieved with the limited funds that the sector gets from federal funding. There is dire need to increase funding in order to cater for these propositions.
Secondly, it is also indicated that the profile of the offenders has increasingly become diversified in the recent past. In this regard, Dowden (2000) affirms that there are numerous new crimes that are increasingly being committed on a daily basis. Further more, there have also been variations in the gender and age of the sex offenders. More than ever, the system is experiencing an influx of juvenile delinquents. In addition, the number of female offenders has also increased significantly.
Notably, the facilities as well as rehabilitation programs that are currently being employed were designed in the past when the society was highly patriarchal. Fagan (2001, p. 243) notes that most of them do not address the specific needs of children and women. For instance, the staff employed to run these programs are mainly men. As such, they have failed to effectively address the particularistic needs of the female offenders that are related to offense such as domestic violence and rape. With regard to facilities, it is indicated that most institutions lack sanitary facilities that are designed for women (Beech & Fisher, 2002, p. 209). Of great concern is the fact that the rehabilitation programs have not been updated to reflect the emergent needs of global dynamism. They do not address specific gender concerns and instead, they have increasingly been implicated for contributing to incidences of re offending. In his review, Dowden (2000) ascertains that irrespective of the fact that these concerns have been raised in the past, minimal practical measures have been undertaken to address them effectively. This is because of lack of financial resources to enforce the changes.
It is in this consideration that it is important to increase the budgetary allocations to this sector to enable it providing for these emergent concerns. Additional finances would facilitate employment of more female staff to deal specifically with issues related to female offenders. In addition, it would necessitate the implementation of new programs that have already been developed. Notably, these require new technology as well as retaining of the staff. For example, increased funding would ensure that the curriculum is redesigned to meet the educational needs of various offenders at both the institutional and community level.
Further, it is argued that lack of resources in such institutions has contributed to the increasing rates of re offending. In this regard, Byrne and Howells (2003, p. 36) postulate that offenders usually become discouraged and frustrated whenever they realize that the programs are not beneficial. For instance, inconsistent education programs increase incidences of discontinuation by the offenders. In addition, Fagan (2001) cites that scenarios such as lack of viable occupational programs that reflect the current global dynamism have made the offenders to stop attending the available programs. Discontinuation of education halts inculcation of vital values that would enable the offender to avoid crime. At the end of their sentence, they would still have similar ideas and beliefs regarding crime. This then makes them susceptible to re offending.
Also, it is indicated that failure to attain vital occupational skills makes it difficult for the offenders to adapt to the environment outside the rehabilitation institutions. Fagan (2001) ascertains that most offenders tend to loose their sources of income when they are sentenced. Lack of income makes it difficult for the offenders to survive especially in instances where they have dependants. The subsequent frustrations increase their susceptibility to engagement in crime.
Finally, Marshall (2001, p. 467) indicates that the shortage in staff in the rehabilitation centers has contributed to ineffective delivery of vital services. This shortage is attributable to lack of incentives in the sector as well as low wages. Institutional records indicate that the finances allocated to the sector are mostly employed in supervision and in corrections. Notably, viable interventions in this regard should effectively address these financial concerns. Providing financial and occupational incentives for the staff has proven effective in reducing staff turnover rates in various organizations. In particular, it is necessary that the salaries of these staff members be reviewed and improved accordingly. This would be instrumental in not only motivating them but also improving their effectiveness in service delivery. This can only be attained if the sector is provided with sufficient resources though budgetary allocations.
This analysis ascertains that rehabilitation programs are elemental in avoiding re offending and preventing increase in crimes related to the same. It is a sustainable approach to reducing crime because the programs ensure that all concerns of an offender are addressed accordingly. In the long run, the specific offender is able to adapt to the environment outside the institution with ease. Indeed, this goes a long way in preventing his or her involvement in crime. As it has come out from the review, achievement of this desirable status has been compounded by various factors. The most profound of all has is the shortage of sufficient financial resources to avail to the offenders ideal and personalized programs. It has contributed to poor service delivery. In addition, the services provided are of poor quality and do not have a positive impact on the behavior of the offenders. This has significantly contributed to incidences of re offending and increases in crime in Canada. It is for this reason that you are requested to allocate more financial resources to the institution in order to enable it address the inherent challenges that undermine its performance
List of References
Andrew, D & Bonta, J 1998, Understanding Criminal Conduct, Correctional service, Canada.
Beech, A & Fisher, D 2002, Offender Rehabilitation, Canadian Psychologist, 36 (2), 200-14.
Byrne, M & Howells, K 2003, Addressing Specific Gender Needs in Corrections, Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 7, 33-9.
Dowden, C 2000. Intervening in Offender Rehabilitation, Correctional Service. Canada.
Fagan, J 2000, Reintegrating Violent Offenders, Justice Quarterly, 6, 230-64.
Marshall, W 2001, Treatment of Offenders, Clinical Psychology Review, 11 (3), 460-80.
McGuire, J 2000, Redefining Rehabilitation Programs, Correctional Service, Canada.
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