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Reducing Recidivism Begins at Intake
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 07/09/2012

Arrested Recidivism, a repeated or habitual relapse into crime, for many years has been an ongoing topic of discussion and debate in the corrections industry.

Corrections professionals throughout the country have made great strides in refining approaches to understanding, correcting and rectifying recidivism in the United States.

One approach is to make the intake process more strategic, rigorous and efficient. During intake at most prisons, the most accurate personal and background information for every offender is gathered and drug and alcohol tests are administered. Although this a great start, there is plenty room for improvement. For example, an assessment of the services and work an offender would need to be reintegrated into society should be taken upon entry into the prison; considering the crime committed, the sentence given and the projected release date.

Some U.S. prisons use a classification process to determine an offender’s housing, job, treatment and custody level based on intake information. This same procedure can also be used to determine re-entry planning and improvement strategies.

This type of classification can provide individual programming and emphasis placed on adequate treatment plans. This can consist of a drug and/or alcohol plan, medical assessment, mental health plan, completion of GED and vocational training to further develop marketable job skills, anger management, reintegration preparedness, institutional parole officer and/or parole interview, counseling, and more.

Some prisons may utilize a case management process or something similar like inmate interviews by institutional parole/release officers. During this process, information is verified to determine support and assistance for the offender upon release. This is critical upon release of an offender. Regardless, it very important that all treatment and security staff be involved in any and every ongoing assessment process.

In addition to affecting the corrections system, recidivism has a major overall impact on society. Corrections management is already very costly and puts strains on city, county, state and federal resources. Professionals in criminal justice need to be creative in finding and developing ways to offset the costs and safety issues recidivism raises in communities across America.

In 2002, the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Corrections and Sentencing committee suggested that:
    “Each state and federal government should adopt a comprehensive plan to reduce return rates to prison and jail that includes the development of re-entry plans, procedures, and services to facilitate released inmates’ reintegration into the community, and relief from legal obstacles that impede reintegration.

    Local, state and federal governments should implement and fully fund programs within prisons and jails, and within community-based sanctioning programs, to provide educational opportunities, vocational and job training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, counseling, and other programs designed to reduce recidivism.”
Regardless of the programs offered, there is one variable that remains constant. Until the offender is willing to accept the responsibilities and consequences for their own actions, change is not going to occur.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at criminaljustice@kaplan.edu .

Other articles by Campbell



Comments:

  1. irish assassin on 07/16/2012:

    Lets cut out all the political and bureucratic bs and just take a simple common sense look at the problem in question. Does the offender want to change? Yes or No? If yes = Proceed with treatment and incourage good results. If no = It's all a waste of time and money covered up in fancy buzz words. Simple, if someone wants to change then they can. If they don't then they won't. So easy it sounds like Dr. Seuss wrote it.

  2. Fred Davis on 07/12/2012:

    A public defender is over paid. I would not trust someone who thinks all offenders have "about" 90% recidivism homogeneously? Could someone break that down by offense and give all of the facts and data by crime? How can one find a job when society is programmed to fear hiring a felon? Drugs are a symptom. The "causal factor" is that the Law makes illegal drugs profitable. The "enablers" of crime are those that "coddle crime" at the sentencing level and make a business at the criminal justice system. Isn't it strange that the United States is highest above Russia with "incarceration rates" and yet at the bottom of the list are those countries that the United States considers allies? The REGIMES have the highest rates and the FREE countries that we consider allies are at the bottom. Do you think that their might be a co-relation between the regimes at the top?

  3. jamestown0509 on 07/10/2012:

    Recidivism isn't going to go away anytime soon. In fact in our area the public defender says the recidivism rate is about 90 percent. There are a number of contributing factors involved in this issue. First is the ability of the former inmate to obtain a job which we all know is just about impossible considering the current economy and job availability. Any former inmate who fills out an application that says they have a criminal record has little if any chances of being hired. Second, as I always told groups of kids on the tours at the jail most if not all inmates have poor coping skills, that is they cannot succeed by themselves outside of the prison environment. Family support is seldom helpful to former inmates because parents, spouses and friends don't want to admit that their loved one was in jail or there are circumstances which create tension between the inmate and loved ones. Former inmates told me that one problem is going back to the outside they go right back into friendships with known felons who talk them into committing crimes for money, drugs or other reasons. Rehabilitation is an excellent idea on paper but when you are talking about a former inmate who was addicted to drugs or alcohol they really need to commit to quitting or the program is a waste of time. I can't recall how many inmates I have seen go to the NYS Willard Drug treatment program three or more times only to get involved in drugs over and over again. County jails really aren't designed to accommodate special drug programs, alcohol programs, etc. except for GED with juveniles. State prisons have more programs for rehab but there are no guarantees. (Kaplan Graduate, 22 years in corrections retired).


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