|Reducing Recidivism Begins at Intake|
|By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global|
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:
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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