Prison and Recidivism

Topics: Prison, Penology, Recidivism Pages: 5 (1614 words) Published: April 2, 2014
One issue that has created controversy and influenced correctional policy over the past twenty-five years is correctional treatment programs. Although the public supports the concept of rehabilitation and treatment programs, there is an expectation that such programs reduce recidivism. In New York City, the recidivism rate in the jail system is as high as 65%. Out of 340,000 males, 200,000 black males are arrested yearly by the NYPD out of a population of 1,200,000 black males. Rehabilitation is a programmed effort to alter the attitudes and behaviors of inmates and improve their likelihood of becoming law-abiding citizens. It focus is on preventing future crimes and return someone to a prior state. An offender who completes their criminal punishment (i.e. sentence to X amount of years in prison, rehabilitation, etc…) and continue to commit crimes, committed Recidivism. Correctional officials try to reduce recidivism and rehabilitation in many ways. First, correctional programs aim at trying to reduce offenders’ motivation to commit further crimes. Second, correctional agencies offer psychological counseling to help offenders understand the factors that trigger certain behaviors, anger management, etc… Finally, correctional programs may simply have a goal of improving offenders’ decision making. The term Recidivism is frequently used for substance abuse or criminal behavior. No person or program can force offenders to change their behavior or to make good decisions to avoid crime, especially months after they leave the supervision of correctional officials. There are a few isolated relationships between a treatment program and a reduction in recidivism. Also, there are no consistent findings that any single treatment program significantly reduced recidivism. Care for rehabilitation decreased after the early 1970, by Martinson and his colleagues’ review of the usage of correctional treatment. There are many methodological concerns about the early work of Martinson and the ability to actually evaluate correctional treatment programs based on recidivism. One concern is that many question the power of using recidivism as a measure of the use of correctional programs, considering it unfair to expect correctional treatment to have a long-term effect by reducing recidivism. Another concern is that social science research designs often have difficulty controlling for the many external and internal factors that can affect recidivism rates. In a 1975 analysis of the studies reviewed by Martinson, Palmer noted that 48 percent of the studies cited found a positive effect on recidivism. And in 1990, Andrews and colleagues found that of the better-controlled studies, 40 percent found that treatment had a positive effect. Meta-analysis has identified positive effect of correctional treatment programs in reducing recidivism as well. Meta-analysis is a statistical measure of the average effect an intervention has on recidivism across all studies, while identifying and controlling for various study conditions. In a 1993 analysis of the effect of correctional treatment, Lipsey and Wilson reviewed ten meta-analyses and identified 25 percent reduction of recidivism by psychological, educational, and behavioral correctional treatment programs. And, in 1995, Losel reviewed thirteen meta-analyses and found that the average effect from the treatment intervention would result in a recidivism rate of 45 percent for the treatment group and 55 percent for the control group. In 2005, the Washington legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to find evidence-based options that could reduce recidivism and avoid the need for expensive prison construction. Boot camps are expensive to operate because they require a high staff to inmate ratio, and they are especially expensive compared to minimum-security prisons, where most of the boot camp offenders would otherwise be incarcerated. Daily per-inmate costs for operating boot...

References: Seiter, I. P. (2010). Corrections, an introduction. (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Neubauer, A. W., & Fradella, H. F. (2010). America 's courts and the criminal justice system. (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.
Hall, C. (2001, Oct 05). Recidivism. Retrieved from
(n.d.). Recidivism. Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) website:
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