THE EFFECTIVENESS OF
Samuel Crosby II
There are many different theories on how to keep recidivism rates from increasing, thus preventing crime. Studies do not show that incarceration can accomplish this task alone; however, there is empirical evidence that supports the idea of implementing effective correctional treatment to reduce the recidivism rates. There are conflicting opinions that show a discrepancy between those that believe that criminals should punished for their crimes or afforded the ability to receive treatment while in the correctional system. Surveys show that Americans support the idea of offenders being incarcerated while being rehabilitated; however, they are not in favor of a solely punitive justice system. In light of the evidence that incarceration does not reduce the recidivism rates, there are other identified alternatives that have been proven to be more effective. This paper will discuss some of the correctional programs that work, the principles necessary for their success and the barriers and strategies for implementation of these treatment programs.
The Effectiveness of Correctional Treatment
In 2003 there were nearly seven million people in the United States under some form of correctional control (Lowenkamp, Latessa and Smith 2006). Other statistics show that in the next year almost five million offenders were on probation or parole (Bonta, Rugge, Scott, Bourgon, & Yessine, 2008). With such great numbers of offenders in the correctional system, one can see how important effective correctional treatment would be in reducing recidivism. However there are conflicting opinions on whether or not treatment should be provided for criminal offenders and whether or not such treatment is actually effective. Some believe that corrections should be utilized as a punishment for offenders and justice for victims; however, others support the idea of punishment and justice in conjunction with rehabilitation to provide for social welfare (Cullen, Smith, Lowenkamp, & Latessa, 2007). The risk principle states that the level of supervision or services be equal to the level of the offender risk. The need principle targets characteristics that are closely related to the likelihood of an offender re-offending. The responsivity principle is based on the social and learning principles. Assessing the offenders risk and needs at the beginning of supervision has shown to be an essential part to determine the possibility of the offender re-offending. Treatment should offer a variety of different interventions that will be conducive to the population in which it is intended to serve. One important goal of correctional treatment should be to prevent crime, provide public safety, and rehabilitate offenders, thus reducing recidivism. Research on Incapacitation
The theory of incapacitation is that we have the ability to prevent offenders from committing more crimes. When we incarcerate an offender who commits a crime, they are no longer able to commit any more crimes in the community. Collective incapacitation is one of two basic approaches that suggest that we take all offenders who commit crimes and place them into prison. Selective incapacitation suggests that we identify those individuals who will commit crimes in the future and place them in prison. This approach is less expensive, every criminal is not incarcerated and prison space is not being wasted on offenders who should not be incarcerated for long periods of time. The effect that confinement has on reducing the crime rated is called the incapacitative effect. Research has not supported recidivism reductions through incarceration. In addition, such excessive use of prison sentences is costly (Smith et al., 2002). For example, Smith, Goggin, and Gendreau (2002) conducted an investigation on deterrent effects of prison...
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