Reducing Recidivism Using an Evidence Based Approach
One of the ironies of the United States, the “Land of the Free,” is that this country incarcerates more of its citizens per capita than any other country on earth today. While substantive changes are currently envisioned for reforming the nation’s criminal justice system, the harsh reality facing many lawbreakers has been the potential for lengthy prison sentences --even for some nonviolent offenses. Further exacerbating the problem are the numerous challenges that offenders face when they are released from incarceration into the community. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that the recidivism rate for ex-offenders remains disturbingly high. Indeed, nearly 44% of all incarcerated prisons reoffend during their first year and more than two-thirds reoffend within 3 years following their release despite increasingly aggressive efforts by public and private sector organizations to help these individuals make the transition to society successfully. One initiative that has shown promise in helping to reduce the alarming recidivism rate in the United States is the Boston Reentry Initiative or BRI (Braga, Piehl & Hureau, 2009). This intervention provides a collaborative framework in which law enforcement agencies, social services agencies and faith-based organizations can pool their resources to directly address the obstacles facing newly released offenders in order to reduce their potential for reoffending and returning to prison. The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the research and an overview of the Boston Police Department and Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department’s BRI, followed by a critique of the initiative and a conclusion that presents key findings about this timely effort to reduce recidivism rates in a major American city.
During the period between 1980 and 2001, the numbers of offenders that were released back into their communities maintained pace with the staggering 240% increase in incarceration rates that took place during this period in the nation’s history. This percentage translates into approximately 630,000 offenders that were released from U.S. prisons and jails, and this figure represents a whopping four-fold increase in the number of released offenders compared to 1981 (Braga et al., 2009). As noted above, a majority of these prisoners will reoffend within 1 to 3 years, and part of the problem can be traced to the woeful condition of the nation’s prisons and jails. Not only are many of these criminal justice facilities already dangerously overcrowded, they lack any meaningful opportunities for prisoners to learn the skills they will need to successfully make the transition to back in society (Braga et al., 2009). In fact, according to the study by Braga and his associates, “Regrettably, the American correctional system does little to prepare these inmates for life after release [and] many inmates do not participate in work assignments while incarcerated” (2009, p. 412).
In response to these trends, the Boston Police Department (BDI) in collaboration with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) developed and implemented the above-mentioned BRI which is specifically focused on reducing recidivism rates by providing newly released prisoners with the skills they will need to legally survive on their own and become contributing members of American society. Although the initiative is comparatively modest in the actual numbers of offenders that can be helped at a given point in time, the BRI does attempt to make a significant difference in the lives of the 15 to 20 newly released…other spurious reasons that are difficult or impossible to refute. More problematic still, perhaps, none of the subjective or objective participation criteria for the BRI appear to take into account any mental health disorders that offenders may be experiencing which can derail any recidivism intervention (Interventions for adult offenders with serious mental illness, 2013), meaning that the time and taxpayer resources that are invested in these offenders were simply a waste. Although it is unreasonable to suggest that the intelligence team that is tasked with selecting offenders for participation in the BRI attempt to perform mental evaluations in addition to their other responsibilities, it just makes good sense to have these evaluations performed by qualified mental health clinicians as part of the selection process. This does not mean, however, that offenders with mental disorders should be prohibited from participating in the BRI, but it does mean that the intelligence team is overlooking an important part of the calculus by failing to take these issues into account.
The research showed that the need is great and the stakes are high. While it is possible to quantify the economic costs of property crimes, it is impossible to calculate the human toll that is exacted on individuals and their communities by violent crime. Indeed, violent crimes not only harm the direct victims, they also adversely affect the entire American society. Moreover, given the prohibitively expensive costs of apprehending, prosecuting and incarcerating offenders, every dollar that is invested prudently in reducing the potential for released criminals to reoffend represents a good investment of scarce taxpayer resources. In the final analysis, it is reasonable to conclude that evidence-based interventions such as the Boston Reentry Initiative provide multiple…
These strategies should focus on parolees' risks and need and conducted in a way that would motivate change. Aware of these realities, States continue to innovate and evolve reentry strategies towards this end (Yahner et al.). The BRI was a particularly ambitious correctional program in that it targeted the most difficult offenders for rehabilitation and incorporation into the community. These are young offenders with violent criminal histories, who are likeliest
Faith-Based Reentry Programs Corrections Faith-based initiatives: Legal and logistical challenges in corrections The separation of church and state is codified in the First Amendment. State support of faith-based organizations designed to reduce recidivism rates was permitted when President George W. Bush signed the Second Chance Act in 2007. The Second Change Act allowed federal funds to be used for reentry programs, including faith-based reentry programs. As expected, the legislation could theoretically pose some First
experimental design feasible? Why or why not? • What suggestions can you make for future studies of the DARE program? The aims of DARE are long-term in nature, namely to encourage students to not abuse drugs over the course of their lifetimes. The only way to test this aim is to conduct a longitudinal study of a representative body of DARE graduates over at least a twenty-year period, to see if
Psychology Analysis of the crime scene After Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced, he was taken to the Correctional Institution of Columbia, located in Portage; a town in Wisconsin. During his first incarceration year, Dahmer was confined separately in order to keep him physically safe in case he interacted with other prisoners. With his consent, when the first solitary confinement year was over, Dahmer was taken to a unit that was less secure. Here,
United States has the highest rate of confinement of prisoners per 100,000 population than any other Western country. Analyze this phenomena and discuss actions that you feel are necessary to combat this problem. The United States currently has the highest incarceration rate of any nation worldwide. For example, greater than 60% of nations have incarceration rates below 150 per 100,000 people (Walmsley, 2003). The United States makes up just about