[Solution]Topic: Defining Recidivism and the Impact of that Definition on Conclusions regarding Program Effectiveness

Final Examination (25%) – Defining Recidivism and the Impact of that Definition on Conclusions regarding Program Effectiveness In the classic and frequently cited article “What…

Final Examination (25%) – Defining Recidivism and the Impact of that Definition on Conclusions regarding Program Effectiveness

In the classic and frequently cited article “What Works? Questions and Answers about Prison Reform”, Robert Martinson (1974) evaluated over 200 programs, treatments and other interventions in correctional institutions and he concluded, “nothing works”. Martinson’s conclusion had a direct impact on the correctional investment in programs and the subsequent shift from the “medical model” adopted by corrections in the 70s in favor of the warehousing and incapacitation model more prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s. This shift away from the medical model resulted in a corresponding decrease in the investment in correctional programs. Many contend that the direct consequence was the dramatic increase in the correctional population leading to overcrowding and increasingly scarce fiscal resources. A complex meeting of policy issues surrounding budgeting, resources, and social pressure has resulted in a change in direction once more with the mission focus of many jurisdictions on reduction in recidivism and reintegration programs. Some content that the social direction for corrections has come full circle and the country is once again in the 1970’s policy mindset. Jurisdictions are once again searching for and implementing effective programs in a correctional setting for a variety of reasons that were the subject of further study in week 11. The “Second Chance Act of 2007” (enacted April 9, 2008 by President Bush) has added philosophical fuel and funding opportunities to that search. There has been an increased emphasis on the performance of correctional systems in producing a “better product” (i.e. an inmate who has improved skills as a result of his incarceration). Lawmakers and correctional stakeholders are now realizing that inmates ill prepared for reentry into their communities create a public safety risk and a public cost burden, and a variety of mega-studies have demonstrated that some programs do in fact “work”. Ed Latessa is one of the champions of research measuring the concept of the “bang for the buck” in identifying programs that demonstrate outcomes that “work”. As with any philosophy, there are also many who still contend that no matter what programs one implements, or how much money is spent, there will be no difference in the recidivism rate over time. Included in the topics of study this semester are concepts of vision and mission, strategic planning and the budget process as. Recidivism is a central issue for these program and policy arenas and it is a term that enjoys wide acceptance as a measuring stick for program success. It is also a term that is elusive to many practitioners and a critical step in any valid study of program outcome must define recidivism at the very start of any program implementation. It is obvious that there is not always universal agreement between the stakeholders as to the actual definition of the term “recidivism.”
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