Systems approaches look towards the functional integration of different stakeholders and their goals towards a specific issue or path. What implications might a proposed solution have and to what groups? What is the functional relationship between groups of stakeholders and how can that be maximized. For returning felons, this approach looks at ways to construct programs that are utilitarian in context (the greatest good for the greatest number) (Teaskey, 1976).
Ecological PA supports a more holistic viewpoint and focuses on the nature of the internal and external environments. In other words, PA must interact with the political executive, social political interest groups, commercial and economic organizations, and the citizenry. This approach takes the approach that solutions may only be found by looking at the issue as a sub-set of a larger set of societal issues. Ecological PA cannot solve the incarceration problem, but can look toward a multidisciplinary approach to find solutions that take on a broader role within the community and see the issue as far more than just felon re-entry into society (Otenyo & Lind, 2006).
Contingency PA looks at anticipated situations that may occur in the future that, if not addressed, may result in negative consequences for society. Contingency PA looks at technology, interest groups, government and the affected citizens and finds that organizations are open systems that require careful management in order to provide positive outcomes. However, there is no "one" right way of organizing, and in the case of felon re-entry, different communities will require different solutions based on size, economic development, resources, and community norms (Public Administration, 2012)
Analysis -- Theories, Tools and Practice
Two major theories of public administration, the Niskanen's Maximizing and the Dunleavy Bureau-Shaping theories may operate in congruence or independently with the above approaches. Niskanen's theory holds that rational bureaucrats will always seek to increase their budgets to enhance their organization and thus contribute to state growth and public expenditure. The motivation is thus to find more money to fund programs that are politically appropriate. In the case of felon re-entry, the pendulum has swung in different ways based on the current administration and public value and expectation paradigm. In many cases, the more conservative approach has resulted in considerable cutbacks in rehabilitation and re-entry programs and more funding for law enforcement and punishment (Raadschelders, 2003).
Dunleavy's theory modifies Niskanen, and focuses on the way that bureaucrats only maximize that part of their budget that they spend on their own agency's operations or interest groups. This causes a flow back of benefits, and thus increased attention to that particular theoretical position. For the offender, since the 1980s programs have been de-emphasized so that more funding could be redirected towards the military and other programs that had a more "obvious" benefit to society in the view of the administration. To seek funding for felon re-entry under Dunleavy, officials would need to change policy and procedures so that a preventative stance against recidivism was emphasized as opposed to a more laizze-faire approach to parole or pardon situations within the community (DUnleavy & Carrera, 2013)
From both a policy development paradigm and a public administration focus, it is clear that the system "as is" is flawed. Instead, a more tangible and proactive public administration focus might be a robust reintegration program that uses an educational and motivational technique to gradually train and reintroduce inmates back into regular society.
One program saved taxpayers in the New Orleans area $36 million -- this on $1 million investment into a new style of community reintegration. This program, called Project Return, attempts to break the cycle of recidivism by intervening in community integration, job training, counselling and thorough follow up. The program is a robust way to allow parolees to spend their first few months (60-90 days) in the program before being totally on their own. The components include: 12 hours in GED/Academic coursework; 8.5 hours in Addiction Education, 6.5-hour in computer training; 4.5 hours in Employability training; 4 hours in Communication skills and 2 hours in Community Building, for a total of approximately 36-40 hours. Prior to job placement, each individual is paid $5/hour just to actively participate in the program. The idea is that many of these individuals have dropped out of school, many do not have a GED or equivalent, and need lessons in basic reading, math and writing combined with survival, life and employment skills. There is a significant amount of community building and teaching these individual how to more effectively deal with stress, diversity, integrity, and communication issues. Addition counselling and support groups, combined with needed psychological assistance are core to the program, as is individual counselling and assessment of work skills design to help the individual find gainful employment (Project Return - Breaking the Cycle of Crime, 2009).
If we use Louisiana as a basic case study example, we find that in 2011 they had 15,206 inmates returned to the community. This represents .33% of the population. When one considers cost of pursuit, arrest, arraignment, detainment, trial and incarceration, the cost is about $100,000 per person, or in the 2011 case, about $1.5 billion per inmate, or $330 for every person living in Louisiana. . To put these individuals through a program like BTC, the costs are reduced drastically. From a total of $1.5 billion per inmate to an annual investment of about $1million, or a savings of $35 million per year, even including those to reoffend and return to prison (Project Return). If we extrapolate the savings we would likely find that most states would average a 40-45% savings on their costs of managing parolees and recidivism. If we look at the national figures and use a $14.5 billion/annum average cost, the overall average costs to the system would be $6.5 billion/annum; a considerable sum that could be used to reinvigorate counselling and education programs and perhaps reduce some of the issues surrounding incarceration completely. Thus, instead of continual spending for incarceration, a more deontological approach would be to fund re-entry into society in a positive and productive manner so that the convicted felon could become gainfully employed, pay taxes, and contribute to the community as opposed to being a fiscal and social burden.
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Integration Cost to Programs Incarcerate
Each state has a different number of individuals meeting the probation or parole category, and thus there are different associated costs. For instance, California's estimated annual cost is about $1.1 billion. To do an accurate analysis, one would need to use data to figure each state's parolee population, and then also analyze the parolee population in relation to the total state population. In our example of California, the $1.1 billion spread throughout the state's population would equal about $31 per person per annum. See: Maruschak…