According to the American Psychological Association, One in 100 U.S. adults is in prison or jail. The United States leads the world in incarcerating its people, locking them up at a rate five to eight times that of Canada and Europe. Prisons are overcrowded, violent and offer few evidence-based rehabilitation programs. Yet, 95 percent of inmates are eventually released, often bringing the trouble in prison back to society. What can we do to improve the recidivism rate in the US?
Neighborhood Advocate Program
When police are made up of the members of a community, they tend to have more in common with the community and the community may have more trust in them. It has been shown in rural areas that police officers employed from the local area that walk beats in their own neighborhood have a better connection and offer a better deterrent to criminal activity.
It has been theorized that the best people to police a community is the community itself. Criminals that have gone straight have more street credibility and offer a better deterrent to criminals in a neighborhood. Current miss-guided youth may be more susceptible to community members that they know as criminals in the past and now cleaned up their act.
A community is a powerful weapon in crime prevention. Become a force in your neighborhood to become an advocate for change.
Historically crime prevention has been the per-view of the police departments. With the increasing use of the computers, CCTV, and surveillance to track crimes, computer data analysts have started helping the police officers and detectives to speed up the solving of crimes across the US.
Data mining can be used to model crime detection and cluster crimes to specific areas. The use of a clustering algorithm for data mining can help detect high crime locations and help solve crime faster.
This clustering algorithm approach combined with CCTV surveillance can take all the mined data to solve crimes by location before they are committed. Criminals tend to commit crimes when they think they will not get caught. Blind spots of CCTV can be havens for crime.
Technology for visual and audio tracking can also help criminal justice professionals. Use of CCTV to automatically detect firearms and knives can curtail crimes. The use of sound detection of gun shots is employed by many big cities in the US. In 2015, the NYPD started using ShotSpotter, a technology that helps police detect the sound of gunshots from car backfires.
Positive & Negative Reinforcement vs Punishment
Prison inmates receive punishment rather than positive reinforcement during incarceration or while attending drug treatment programs. To change use of punishment, psychologists can train correctional officers on how to prompt and reward positive behavior and reduce misconduct.
According to Simply Psychology, the theory of Operant Conditioning focuses on positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment. “Overall, the theory concludes that behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e. strengthened); behavior which is not reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e. weakened).”
Positive Reinforcement - rewards the good behavior for a prisoner rather than punishment. This reward is strengthens the behavior as the prisoner associates the two together as one.
Negative Reinforcement – By removing a negative behavior or result you can also strengthen behavior. This is known as negative reinforcement because it is the removal of an adverse feeling or situation what is rewarding to the prisoner. Negative reinforcement strengthens behavior as it removes an unwanted experience.
Punishment - the opposite of reinforcement since it is designed to weaken or eliminate a response rather than increase it. The opposite of reinforcement because it eliminates a response rather than introducing a positive/negative reinforcement.
There are many problems with using punishment, these include:
- The prisoner doesn’t forget punishment and the when the prisoner is no longer incarcerated the criminal behavior returns as the consequence has ended.
- Punishment can cause aggression in prisoners making the punishment produce more violence.
The use of positive and negative reinforcement has proven to rehabilitate inmates more often than punishment. Violence begets violence, peace begets peace.
Looking to help out your community as a police officer, corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, or private security guard? If you have an interest in helping others while working in this rewarding career field, Daymar College can provide the Criminal Justice courses and training you need.