This requires identification of the barriers to the readiness of the offender to change as well as the strengths of the offender that will enable their making those changes. Latessa relates that the failure of researchers and scholars to "bridge the gap among theory, research and practice" is striking and that suggestions for how promotion of change by academics and researchers include those of:
(1) leave the office -- be willing to attend and present at nonacademic conferences, conduct workshops for local professionals, testify at legislative hearings, and in general be willing to led the expertise and knowledge they posses;
(2) Make research understandable
(3) Include measures of program integrity and quality in research.
(4) Do a better job of preparing students:
(a) teach them the knowledge base;
(b) provide them better skills and competencies; and (c) expose them to other relevant disciplines. (Latessa, 2004)
Latessa (2004) states that he visited several state correctional systems and that this research highlighted the fact that many of these programs are successful at rehabilitating criminal offenders but as well he noted that some of these programs had components that resulted in higher rates of recidivism among criminal offenders.
First stated in Latessa's observations is the fact that change does not come easy and along with this inherent difficulty in making changes in the correctional system are the impacts of politics, politicians, appointees and among these those who are policymakers for the correctional systems.
It is nigh impossible to apply a narrow theoretical view of the needs of the correctional system for dealing with criminal offenders because the issues that are being dealt with cross the boundaries of field of study and discipline of practice and is inclusive of psychological, sociological, criminal justice, as well as other theoretical underpinnings. True rehabilitation of criminal offenders requires that all these various disciplines and theoretical frameworks have a common meeting point and that a collaborative effort ensues in addressing the rehabilitation needs of the whole person represented by the criminal offender.
For example it is possible that a criminal offender may be an individual who suffered abuse as a child, who has a hereditary tendency to abuse alcohol or drugs, who has an accompanying mental condition such as schizophrenia, and in addition to all of this has committed criminal offenses against society.
Naturally addressing the rehabilitative needs of such an individual would only be addressed very poorly and without much effectiveness if only the criminal offenses aspect of that which needs addressing in the life of the individual were addressed and furthermore, the chance for effective and lasting rehabilitation would be very poor.
Latessa's suggestion that scholars, academics, and criminal justice linked professionals should get out of their office and become motivated for self-education along with educating the public, government officials and policymakers is indeed an astute position as complacency in the criminal justice correctional system will only serve to make the burden of criminal offenders heavier and the community in today's world characterized by even more risk as the criminal population grows with no abatement and poor efforts at rehabilitation.
For example, a third time offender for possession of illegal or controlled substances, who has already served one or two prison terms is oftentimes immediately sentenced to another stint in the prison system however, what is being missed is the failure of the system to rehabilitate or 'change' the individual the first one or two times they went to prison therefore, then the question must be asked of why indeed is it expected that the third prison term will be more successful at ending the criminal offender's propensity to commit a drug-related crime? The answer quite simply is that what did not work the first and second time is highly unlikely and in fact most assuredly improbable to bring about changes in the offender when the punishment is administered a third time.
Summary and Conclusion
There are an abundance of theories as to what direction the correctional system should take in administering punishment to criminal offenders however, many of these theories do not have a sound basis and are not evidence-based rehabilitation methods. Contemporary criminal justice is coming to grips with the requirements for rehabilitation and it is necessary that policy makers and decision makers do the same and that an understanding of the need for collaborative efforts between professionals in, among and across fields and disciplines be acknowledged if criminal offenders are to be effectively rehabilitated so that they are able to re-enter society as a productive member of society. This will require that the mental, social, physical, and psychological health of the individual be addressed in the rehabilitation process.
With new knowledge in the application of rehabilitation of criminal offenders comes a responsibility to apply that knowledge and to bring the criminal justice correctional system in line with that knowledge in terms of implementation and application of rehabilitation efforts and criminal offender correctional programs.
Schmalleger, F. (2007). Criminology today. (5th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall
Ward, T. And Stewart, C. (in press-a) Criminogenic Needs and Human Needs: A Theoretical Model. Psychology. Crime and Law.
Ward, T. And Stewart, C. (in press-b) Good lives and the rehabilitation of sexual offenders, in T. Ward, S. Hudson, and R. Laws (Eds) Sexual deviance: Issues and Controversies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Birgden, Astrid (2002) Therapeutic Jurisprudence and 'Good Lives': A Rehabilitation Framework for Corrections. Australia Psychologist. 2002 Nov. Vol. 37, No.3. Online available at: http://law.anu.edu.au/UnitUploads/LAWS8164-2581-Birgden%20(2002)%20Aust%20Psych.pdf
Latessa, Edward J. (2004) the Challenge of Change:…