Thursday, May 10, 2012

Part III: The Crime Report examines rehabilitation

This is the third in a regular series of posts derived from Ted Gest's article Crime and Justice Trends in America: How We Got Here; Where We Go Next on cutting edge evidence-based crime fighting practices posted at The Crime Report.

Rehabilitation--Francis Cullen, University of Cincinnati

Cullen recalled the much-simplified contention of Robert Martinson in 1974 that "nothing works" in the rehabilitation of criminals (a conclusion widely circulated via an interview with the late Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes."

In fact, he said, current evidence shows that rehabilitation does reduce recidivism---some methods more than others.

Cullen is an advocate of an "RNR" (Risk, Need, Responsivity) model proposed by Canadian experts that offers "core principles of effective intervention and the technology to implement them; it also produced positive treatment outcomes."

Analyzing public opinion surveys, Cullen finds that explanations for crime that include ineffective parenting, family breakdown, exposure to delinquent peers, neighborhood disorganization, poverty, and unemployment "provide the public with the logic for endorsing—which they do in large percentages—correctional rehabilitation and human-services."

Many jurisdictions now are trying to reduce their prison populations, he said, adding that if officials are going to place offenders into the community, they will have to “do something with them.”

"Simple parole or probation is not enough" and offenders need treatment programming, Cullen says.

Cullen also calls for an "expansion of early intervention programs, especially because knifing off a criminal career can save an enormous amount of human suffering and of government resources."

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