The Advantages and Disadvantages of Community Service

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The advantages and disadvantages of Community service or social service as modes of criminal punishment. Community service or social service is a mode of punishment provide by the law which the offender can escape imprisonment or fines. Community service acts as an alternative to the harsh criminal punishment. Generally, community service is handed down by a judge or magistrate to the first-timer offender or teenage offender. This punishment can also be handed down in the case of minor offences for example traffic violations, petty theft, and other nonviolent offenses. The offender is required to perform unpaid work or other activity in the community under the direction of a probation officer or supervisor. Among the community work undergo by the offender are cleaning up roadside or parks, attending educational programs and presenting speeches and seminars concerning the negative effect of crime. The community work may be a specific community service which imposed a particular service, depending on the types and degrees of the offences. For instance, offender of littering will have to clean a park so that he understands the effect of littering, thus change his perception towards littering.

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Meaning to say, community service is designed to ensure that the guilty party is punished in some way other than simply paying a fine which can be nothing in the way of a deterrent. Many individuals convicted of a crime and have to pay a fine simply done the same offence again and this leads only to their continual committing of crime. The community service is imposed for a specific period which measured by hour of service. The hours imposed is vary, depending on the nature of the offence. Community service is a healthy alternative mode of punishment and has lots of advantages. It is seen to benefit a country and the government in so many ways. Firstly, community service provide for less expensive punishment compared to imprisonment. It takes a lot of money to send a person to jail. In United Kingdom, it costs ? 100 per day to keep a low-risk drug-addicted offender in jail and ? 37,500 for sending a person to prison for one year. In contrast, only ? 3,000 is needed to send a person to one year of community rehabilitation order.

On average, sending a person to prison is 12 times higher than sending a person to community service. Prisons around the world are facing the same problem which is overcrowding prison. More prisoners means more foods and more security is needed. The increase in the numbers of prisoners subsequently increases the cost for running the prison. So, based on the facts, community service is a great way to cut government cost on punishing offenders as it provide for the less expensive approach with similar effect and helps in reducing the overcrowding problem in prison. Consequently, the money saved can be used for development thus improve the living of the country. Secondly, community service is healthier than imprisonment. This is because, community service offer help to the offenders to rehabilitate themselves more effectively than in prison. This is mainly because; by community service the offenders are able to give something back to the community as prove that they have change. By doing so, the offenders will have small risk of reoffending neither in the number of crimes nor the seriousness of the crimes. If the offender is stuck in the 6? 8 feet cell, the offender will have limited resources to help him rehabilitate.

Furthermore, putting a first time offender with minor offence in the same room with big time criminal for quite sometimes will negatively affect the first time offender in term of his thinking towards crimes. So, separating the offender is a way to avoid an escalation in deviant behavior when new offenders are mixed with hardened criminals. Next, community service benefits the courts as it provide sentencing alternatives for the courts in making judgment so the courts are not bound to only impose imprisonment or fines. Moreover, the offenders will be placed where their skills and interest can be maximized for community benefit. By doing so, the offenders have greater chances to rehabilitate and repel. It will also help in preventing and reducing the social stigma toward the offenders. Social stigma can be defined as severe social disapproval of personal characteristics or beliefs that are perceived to be against cultural norms. In this context, social stigma can be referred to the negative perception of the public toward the offenders.

Protection from social stigma is important for young and new offenders as it help to build confident for rehabilitate purpose. Social stigma has great potential in forcing the offenders to commit the same or other serious offences. Community service provides a just punishment to the offenders. In cases which involve monetary penalty, for instances fine, compensation or restitution, it is not practical to fine a person who does not have the capacity to pay the fine due to financial problem such as limited salary. This is where community service comes in as incapability to pay the fine is not an excuse to escape punishment. However despite the advantages, such punishment has defects of its own. Community service is often being regarded as a waste of time. This is because the time taken for the offenders to complete a service is too long and sometimes unreasonable.

For example, a traffic offender needs to work unpaid for 100 hours over a $100 fines. This situation is seen to be an impractical and unproductive method in favor of the offender because the time use for the work can be used for the offender to improve his living. Moreover, the long hours of community service may affect the offender normal life as he needs to juggle his life with the service. Community service is not an adequate punishment for the offenders. This is because community service is not harsh enough to educate and rehabilitate the offenders compare to imprisonment. Community service is only seen as a ticket to escape imprisonment. Many argued that offences punishable with community service do not really ample together. In some cases, the punishment of community service imposed is to kind towards the offenders. Such punishment will only result the offenders to re-offence as the consequences of the guilty act are minor. Then, the administration of community service requires administrative oversight that may exceed the capacity of the non-governmental organizations to provide. If the agencies of community service where the offenders serve do not have the capacity to provide required punishment, the rehabilitation of the offenders will be affected.

Thus little chances of recovery for the offenders and later lead to re-offending. Community service sends the offenders back to public as a method of rehabilitate them. However, the public exposure may result in stigmatization towards the offenders. Negative perception from public will affect the offenders’ psychology in recovering from the offences. It will bring the morale and confident of the offenders down. At the time of recovering, confident and support of the community are important for successful recovery. Unfortunately, community service will expose the offenders to public and the higher the risk of stigmatization. In conclusion, community service can be seen as great method of punishment as it gives the offenders the opportunity to give something back to the community. In addition, it’s a way to saving cost related with incarceration of the convict and a way to educate convicts on what constitutes ethically acceptable. However, this criminal punishment need to be reviewed before imposing it as it only act as an alternative for other punishment such as imprisonment and fine. It also needs some enhancement to be more effective and efficient alternatives.

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Community Service. (2017, Sep 22). Retrieved May 18, 2024 , from

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