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The Idea That Community Punishment Is A “Soft Option” (Essay Sample)


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Community Punishment is a Soft Option


When the term “punishment of criminals” is mentioned, what comes into the minds of most people are the tall walls with barbed electrified wires, large steel gates and imposing gray premises where the criminals are held to pay for the offenses they have committed (Hayes, 2015). Nevertheless, probation or community punishment does not involve confinement of the offender within the jail premises. Community punishment allows judges and magistrates to place the offender back to the community, but on specific conditions, such as keeping in contact with a probation officer. The basis for community sentence, as well as its effectiveness, objectives, and aims, has always been a divisive issue in the society (Hayes, 2015). The opponents of this kind of punishment think that it is not enough to change the behavior of the criminal, indicating that the sanctions are not intrusive or punitive enough. On the other hand, those who advocate for this type of sentence insist that it is a suitable form of punishment for petty crimes because it helps to reduce the population in jails (Fitzgibbon and Lea, 2014). They further contend that when people with minor offenses go to jail, they come out more dangerous than they were as a result of interacting with individuals who have committed serious crimes. In this paper, I will illustrate why community punishment is a soft option.

The Community Sentences

The 1991 Criminal Justice Act was implemented in the United Kingdom to protect the public from severe harm. The act gives the judges and magistrates the power to combine both the community punishment with the fines. This form of charge essentially doubles the consequence of the criminal's actions. Consequently, even some petty crimes such as graffiti are seen as serious offenses, which may attract serious repercussions The community punishment involves the offender fulfilling one or more of the thirteen requirements (Cluley, 2012). This includes participating in community work for up to 300 hours without being paid. Some of the works an offender may undertake involve clearing public land, removal of graffiti in public places, the collection of litter and redecorating community centers and other public premises. Moreover, the criminal may be required to spend some time in the rehabilitation center for the treatment of alcohol or drug addiction. The criminal is sometimes ordered to undertake mental diagnosis and treatment by a psychologist or a medical practitioner with the aim of improving their psychiatric condition (Mills, 2011). Nonetheless, the offender must consent before the judge makes such an order. In addition, criminals may be subjected to house arrest in a bid to keep them out of trouble or reduce the chances of the offenders hurting the society. The court orders may also restrict the criminal from entering or visiting specific areas such as shops and streets for a given period of time (Cluley, 2012). The community sentences aim at tackling the issues that made the offender commit a particular crime rather than imposing serious imprisonment. Thus, the requirements aim at changing the criminal behavior to prevent them from committing crimes in the future while at the same time making amends to those who have been affected by the actions of the offender in the community. Community punishment gives the criminal an opportunity to embark on a rehabilitation program and participate in community work under the supervision of a probation officer.

Why Community Punishment is a Soft Option

Community payback is less effective as far as rectifying the behavior of the offenders is ...

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