Exploring Police Role In Prisoner Reentry Essays Examples
The question of prisoner reentry is complex one. Given range of stakeholders, overlap in responsibilities and community concerns, prisoner reentry poses serious challenges as a public policy issue. Not only is police role unclear as to how, when and, most significantly, why police should be involved in first place in prisoner reentry but also is how such a role, if any, be orchestrated with community, local service programs and faith-based organization roles. Historically, police have engaged in law enforcement efforts. These efforts become increasingly subject to much criticism, particularly by communities of color, against which major instances in U.S. recent history of extreme violence were committed. Perceived less as law enforcement officers and more as systematic, racial abusers, policepersons are at an impasse when faced by prisoner reentry challenge. Further, given existing divides within police departments about prisoner reentry – some against reentry since police main responsibility is law enforcement and some for reentry since reentry strategies are part of crime prevention measures police undertake – enactment of prisoner reentry programs remain an organizational dilemma as well. This summary exposes five main ideas expressed in "Exploring the Role of the Police in Prisoner Reentry," namely police as problem-solving institution; reentry from jail and prison; concentration of returning prisoners in a few neighborhoods; high recidivism rates; and police legitimacy.
Police: Problem Solving Institution
Historically, police have been viewed as a problem-solving institution. By enforcing law and "rounding up" out-of-laws, police have played a major role in not only crime reduction but also prevention. Engaged differentially in different states, police departments have performed evolving duties and roles over decades. This role has been of particular significance during periods of major crises. However, as resources allocated to police force across country declined and an increasing number of American wet to prison, police role has been subject to more scrutiny. In addition to historical bias against police from African-American and Latinos communities, police role has been questioned as regards prisoner reentry. Indeed, an increasing number of returning prisoners to home has raised public concerns about safety of specific neighborhoods in which high concentrations of returning prisoners exist.
Notably, police role as a problem-solving institution as regards returning prisoners has been largely confined to law enforcement. This is, in fact, attributed to a complex group of factors including, most notably, lack of institutional support. That is, after prisoners release, police have little control not only one prisoner behavior but also on information connected to released prisoners including basic information as physical address. This lack of institutional backup makes police unable to be involved in effective community engagements. Given rise of "community policing", police departments will be better able to engage more effectively with local community members in order to not only ensure public safety but also more sustainable, long-range relationship. From a prisoner reentry point of view, police can enhance role of community policing by participating or – if provided with adequate institutional support – creating rehab programs for returning prisoners, particularly ones who were released from jail or prison recently whom recidivism is reported to be highest within first six months of release.
Jail and Prison Reentry
Of particular note in a discussion of prisoner reentry is a focus on prisoners released from jail and prison. Given short terms prisoners spend jails – compared to prison – returning prisoners from jail are less studied. Although returning prisoners from prison receive much more attention, returning prisoners from jail constitute an issue no less significant. Since all county jails are located to returning prisoners from jail – in addition to period spent in jail – personal ties with families are not weakened as in case with returning prisoners from prison. These criteria of proximity to family and short periods spent in incarceration, according to one rational, justifies a disinterest in jail prisoners. However, given current rates of recidivism among jail prisoners, enacting rehab programs, counseling services as well as job prospecting skills is no less important for prisoners returning from jail.
Moreover, by failing to follow up on returning prisoners from jail, police risk missing a lot of leads and might hence cause, indirectly, a compromise in security network established and designed based on information available about prisoners returning from prison. There are also issues of domestic violence, drug abuse and law enforcement resistance. The significance of prison reentry for returning prisoners from jail cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, an urgent need for comprehensive programs – including both prisoners – should be met for smoother reentry processes of prisoners and safer communities.
Returning Prisoner Concentration
Interestingly, statistics show returning prisoners return home to communities characterized by very high crime rates. This concentration is, if anything, a result of systematic practices which channeled and maintained current pattern of prisoner concentrations. For example, by barring persons which committed felonies from access to private housing as well as affordable public housing, returning prisoners have little options and hence neighborhood concentrations.
The communities display features which make crime more entrenched and less likely to be driven away. By showing higher patterns among residents of crime, neighborhoods to which returning prisoners return are denied critical political rights and are less engaged civically. Further, characterized by high incarceration rates, such communities experience a gender imbalance between males and females which result in family building as well as broader social problems, problems which ironically maintain status quo and enhance patterns only partially approached by law enforcement.
The case for police engagement in neighborhoods with high returning prisoner rate cannot be overemphasized. Not least a preventive measure, by enhancing relations with community members and local, rehab organizations police can help not only reduce recidivism rates but also reshape police responsibilities and image.
High Recidivism Rates
Undeniably, one major reason for why police should reconsider a different role in community engagement is high recidivism rates. Statistically, incarcerated individuals are inclined to display criminal behavior after release for different reasons. This has been a consistent pattern across different jurisdictions over prolonged periods. Accordingly, call within police departments and from community at large has been for a more proactive role of police for crime prevention. Again, police review of conventional role as a law enforcement organization is subject to fresh insights, insights which should refocus police roles and responsibilities from law enforcement responsibilities to broader missions in and beyond communities.
Police have a long history in law enforcement. This has helped project police as a powerful organization in maintaining stability and ensuring safety. Since introduction of community policing and problem-solving concepts, police role has been subject to more scrutiny given policy capacity for law enforcement but also for police legitimacy as a fundamental organization of historical origins and achievements. Thus, by engaging more with local communities, faith-based organizations as well as community leaders, police can boost self image as a legitimate organization of not only pragmatic value but, above all, trust. As well, legitimacy is best achieved – in not only a policing context but in virtually very different contexts – by more and more engagement, not by assuming authority alone. Unsurprisingly, police are hated most in communities in which police authority is most emphasized, i.e. in African America and Latinos communities. By contrast, in communities where police show least signs of authority and are only intervention, police are regarded with respect and are highly esteemed.