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Corrections: Innovative Practices
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 07/22/2013

Freshidea The area of Corrections continues to encompass many views and concerns for safety, security, and control issues. Budgets continue to be stretched, while attempts are made to maintain current levels of supervision and control without jeopardizing safety, security, and control. Some levels of government at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels have produced better results and initiatives than others. At this time I will provide some information I researched for review, outlining some innovative corrections’ practices. As you know, corrections is a massive field and covers a variety of areas. I began my research by doing an internet search for corrections innovation. To my surprise, I received 41,900,000 results. I soon realized an ‘oohs’ occurred, there was no way I could review each result. I narrowed my search and retrieved information from several credible sites that I was familiar with.

We are approaching the 143rd Congress of Correction Conference. ACA is seeking nominations for Innovation in Corrections Award. There are specific rules, criteria, and eligibility requirements for nominations. Additional information can be located at www.aca.org.

I always found it useful to conduct research prior to tackling an area for improvements. I like to see what works, does not work, and current industry trends. The information can easily be obtained and reviewed. In addition, this is a great way to review research data, training and funding opportunities. The first innovation area I selected is “Victims of Crime.”

The Office of Justice Programs and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) provided the following statement. They are “committed to enhancing the Nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.” In 2011 violent victimization and property crime increased. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization, 2011, October 2012). This is long overdue in improving and continuing support to crime victims. The following sites may be useful for additional reading and research:
  • National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Funding
  • Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Grants & Funding
  • Online Directory of Crime Victims Services (ODCVS)
  • Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTC)

Currently, the Urban Institute is conducting a study supported by the National Institute of Corrections regarding “Whether currently available Medicaid coverage in states that cover childless adults under age 65 helps newly released inmates access to health care and thereby, contributes to improved employment and recidivism outcomes.” Data will be collected during 2012-2013 and results available in 2014.

Reintegration is difficult for offenders with physical and mental health issues and substance abuse problems. While incarcerated treatment is provided to inmates. The problem and concern occurs when the offender is released and adequate treatment is not available. All too often, this then leads to re-offending and incarceration. I am looking forward to reviewing the results released in 2014.

The Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs released the following April 12, 2013: “Justice Department and Council of State Governments Identifies States Cutting Correction Costs While Reducing Recidivism and Improving Safety.” Seventeen states reduced corrections costs in their states while ensuring public safety is improved and recidivism is reduced. For additional information on ‘Justice Reinvestment Initiative;’ please visit the following site, http://www.ojp.gov.

I thought the next initiative was rather clever. The State of Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana State Police, and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department submitted the third edition of 52 playing cards. Each card has a photo and contains information for ‘unsolved homicide or missing person cases from across the state.’ The intent is to try and involve offenders in obtaining additional information to help solve some of these cases.

The Office of Justice Programs and National Institute Justice Corrections Technology Program provides a variety of initiatives and innovative practices available to corrections. These initiatives assist in improving safety and can consist of the following: identification systems of high-risk individuals, bullet proof vests and less-lethal weapons, DNA technology, and other. I provided some additional sites for your perusal.
  • Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA): Funding and Publications
  • National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Funding; Standards & Testing, and Technology & Tools
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
    • Corrections: Equipment and Technology
    • National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)

This paragraph addresses: “Cleaning Up Correctional System’s Corruption Will Require Innovative, Three-Pronged Approach.” During June 2013, an article was published identifying the indictments of thirteen officers with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The Maryland Legislative Policy Committee received support from legislators in investigating allegations of deep-seated corruption in Maryland’s prison system. “Full and broad powers” are recommended for the legislative panel to conduct this oversight investigation.

The final area I will discuss is from an article found in Spring 2013 Tech Beat. (National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center), “California Prisons Aim to Disconnect Unwanted Calls.”

In 2011, the California correctional system confiscated more than 15,000 cellphones. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recognized early some ‘legal hurdles’ would have to be over-combed to assist in controlling this dilemma.
  • State legislative action and approval in creating a bill ‘making it a misdemeanor to smuggle cellphones into a correctional facility.’
  • CDCR worked closely with the Federal Communications Commission and wireless carriers.
  • Install ‘airport-style security on the outer perimeter.’
  • Increase searches

Results: “In the first 11 days of the pilot project, the managed access systems blocked 24,190 call attempts from 2,593 unauthorized phones. With the population at the two facilities in March 2011 totaling just more than 6,565, that could mean that two of every three inmates had an illegal device.” Now, you decide if this is problematic.

I presented you with an array of dilemmas and some agencies innovative approaches in an attempt to control costs and improve services while never losing sight of safety issues. I hope I ignited a spark in you to further your research in these areas as well as identifying various innovation techniques available.

Corrections.com author, Terry Campbell, is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University, School of Public Safety 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


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