The Relationship between Prison Program Participation and Recidivism
Prison Program Participation and Recidivism
AbstractDecades of research have solely put their focus on prison-based programs as the only way of dealing with the ballooning cases of recidivism. Although this has been able to provide the necessary data applicable in the participation and integration of prisoners into the society, there is much that needs to be done. Little attention is being paid to community-based integration programs. The need for strong community participation in the acceptance of offenders back into the community as parolees is evident yet it has not been given the priority it deserves. Recently, there has been a clear indication of a strong bond between recidivism and participation of inmates in reintegration programs. The relationship has shown that the figures of offenders who undergo recidivism are high in communities where there are no clear community-based integration programs. This study utilizes the work of (Foster,2012) in attempting to establish the linkages and correlations between prison-based programs, post-release employment acquisition, and recidivism. The research is based on observation of two groups of ex-prisoners and how they integrate into the society. Their behavior, adaptation to the new environment and the frequency at which recidivism occurs (if any) is the key variables under consideration here.
Prison Program Participation and Recidivism
Over the years, there has been a growing need for communities and correction facilities to come together and formulate crime prevention strategies that are not only focused on preventing crime before occurrence but also reducing recidivism. These strategies are directed at addressing the various factors that contribute to the increasing number of crimes committed by people who have served prison terms for similar or different offenses. The rising figures have been largely attributed to the failure of such individuals to integrate, upon their release into the new environment(Smith, 2009). In most cases, there are no clear guiding programs and criteria that fully engage the individuals and set them on a road to recovery offering them alternative activities with the aim of staying crime-free. Much of the burden of dealing with recidivism has been left to the Prison authorities yet it is the society where offenders spend most of their time before and after release from prison either as parolees or after completion of the imposed punishment.
The length of prison terms is also a key factor in determining the success of crime prevention based on recidivism. Some individuals especially those handed short-term stays in prison have limited time to participate in, and fully practice the recommended ways of staying away from trouble after the expiration of their term(s).It, therefore, calls for the development of alternative programs preferably in the community that can supplement the former. Community participation is key to the integration of offenders back into the society and also to curb recidivism. The kind of support that the community can offer ranges from psychological, material to social and it is instrumental in preventing re-arrest of offenders for similar or different crimes upon release. The participation of the community is the sole factor that can help break the repetitive trend of individuals getting in and out of prison within a short period.
Community safety programs are based on combined effort between the society and the government in formulating effective intrusions that are key in helping the ex-offenders successfully reintegrate back into the society and stay away from crime in the future (Fields,2011).It involves an elaborate process that can be managed and sustained by the society with some assistance from the authorities. Such processes can be managed by the community, and they provide the society with the most cost effective means of preventing crime emanating from people who have had previous criminal records and stints in prison. Despite the existing need for such programs, the biggest challenge facing key policy –makers and other stakeholders is the identification of such programs and the justification of their necessity in facilitating successful integration of offenders into the society without committing similar offenses in the future.
There is a general lack of consensus on the effectiveness of supporting such programs in supplementing the reintegration process and its impact on the reduction of the soaring rates of recidivism. Much of the work done on this subject has been done with little or no attention to an evaluation of the already established programs. More attention is being accorded to findings based on what correctional facilities are doing to reduce recidivism(Maggioncalda,2007). Some of these tactics such as training and treatment are indeed valuable, but they can only apply when accompanied by supporting community programs.
There are conviction and a degree of admission among stakeholders and offenders themselves that much success can be attained by identifying and addressing holistically the factors that lead an individual into committing a crime. The general feeling is that the chances of success of reintegration programs greatly depends on the support accorded to the offender(s) within the prison and in the community after release. The facilitation of such a program is not an easy effort, and it calls for a high level of tolerance although its impact is also hard to measure. Offender recidivism rates remain the sole parameter that can help determine success thus adding more complexity to this subject. To determine recidivism rates requires an evaluation, at regular points, of the relationship between re-offending individuals and their contacts as recorded in the Criminal justice system records.
This paper will seek to address the underlying deficits in the reintegration system by decisively exposing the need for community participation in reducing recidivism and suggest the ideal interventions that can facilitate successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the society. Without ignoring the existing prison programs, the findings of the study will be key in aiding effective social reintegration based on shoring up the existing loopholes. It seeks to expose the strong bond existing between offenders who along with prison-based programs also underwent community-based programs and the rate of recidivism. Parolees from two sets of locations will provide the required study sample. This is in an attempt to show how the rate of recidivism is affected when prison-based programs are supplemented by other programs in the society.
The Literature Review of this particular borrows a leaf from other studies that have been done on a similar subject regarding the causes of recidivism and how best the methods being employed to tackle the problem can be further improved. It explores the role of the community and other stakeholders in formulating better and more effective programs that can support offenders during and after release from prison with the main aim of reducing cases of recidivism in the society. This research tries to look into the major factors that play a part in contributing to the need for participation of the society as a unit in reducing the growing cases of parolees or ex-inmates finding their way back to prison. These variables include vocational education, social support, and financial support.
Statistics shows that the number of detainees in the leading prisons in the entire world has been on the rise for close to 20 years now. For instance in the United States alone, the figures are almost double the anticipated number and is even expected to rise to alarming heights in the next couple of years. According to government records, there are more than 2 million detainees. The figure is indeed high considering that over the last two decades an average of half a million detainees have been accorded their freedom and put back into the community some of them as parolees. The survey also reveals that about 4 million ex-inmates are under community-based supervision. The most worrying fact is that there will come a time when all this lot of detainees will be released. The level of preparedness by both parties(offenders and the community) to accommodate one another has always been called into question. The various programs established to prepare the ex-offenders to return safely to the society and reintegrate successfully in a way of leading crime-free lives are always left to the correction facilities rather than the community also playing their role.
Most recently, the BJS embarked on a similar study on recidivism which revealed that despite the existing programs, a section of ex-offenders still found their way back to prison. Nearly three-quarters of ex-offenders still found their way back to the records of Criminal Justice System within five years of their release according to the findings. Of this contingent, more than half of them ended up behind bars on conviction on a new crime or violating the conditions within which their release exercised. This trend is shocking and according to BJS, much of these cases can be attributed to a lack of robust community-based integration programs that can aid similar programs run by correction facilities aimed at bringing these figures down. The findings of this research compared the education of offenders and acceptance levels in the US communities. The study was based on the three phases associated with offender release and reentry into society programs that take place at different levels aimed at preparing offenders for their impending release, during the period in which they will stay as parolees and during permanent reintegration into the society.
The support and supervision offered are commendable but lacking to some extent due to the presence of a visible imbalance between the community and the correction facilities. The gap can be bridged by running parallel community-based programs to reduce the burden being laid on the justice system. Researchers have argued that the best programs begin at the point of integration into the society and also admit that effective programs are the ones based in the community that may include social assistance, financial aid and provision of employment. Government participation has been growing over the same period but without clear policies and structures, the whole exercise is bound to bear no fruit.
Based on related studies mentioned in the preceding section, this research will acknowledge such work while exploring their limitations at the same time and then build on such weaknesses to come up with a clear and concise recommendation. Thus, the guiding hypotheses for this research are guided by what has been done, how it can be done in a better way. There exists a strong relationship between prison program participation by inmates and the rate of recidivism for non-violent offenders in the society. The rate at which ex-offenders end up behind bars again can be checked by putting more emphasis on community-based programs rather than the conventional way of putting more energy on prison-based programs. Inmates who have participated in community reintegration programs are more likely to lead a crime-free life for longer periods as compared to those who have undergone mere prison programs. Parolees who have come into contact with such programs are less likely to re-offend in the same capacity or later when total freedom is granted.
The study intends to employ a method that is not so complex and one that can be applied within the context of the problem to come up with as accurate results as possible. It involves the observation of samples of ex-offenders drawn from two distinct communities in the states of Oklahoma and Hawaii for six months. The two locations are selected because of the enormous visible gap that exists regarding ex-offenders who have gone on to re-offend within five years of their release. In Oklahoma, estimated 16,000 out of 52,000 ex-inmates have found their way back into criminal periods over the same period. The observation period is reached at in line with similar state surveys that also take place after six months every year to establish the number of parolees who can be traced in the community. These statistics are abnormally high compared to those in Hawaii that show only 2,300 ex-prisoners out of a reported 66,000 released into the society within five years were booked into the books of justice over the same duration. The presence of community-based integration programs in Hawaii can be a decisive factor for such trend.
The observation is centered on what programs both sets of offenders were subjected to both in prison and later in the community upon their release. It also looks at the general perception of the two communities to reintegration and the degree of commitment accorded to efforts meant to bolster acceptance and integration of parolees. It is a follow-up of the individuals to trace them in the society, what they are doing and how the community is helping them start a new life, free from crime. A frequency observation method is highly recommended so as to facilitate comparison of the two sets of data. The study will try to establish the frequency at which former inmates in Oklahoma and Hawaii states find their way back into crime within a similar period. Using create a state of comparison that is key in revealing the existing variance and trying to get to the cause of the same. The number of observers is not limited, but it will be influenced by the proximity within which the parolees are placed in the community. The further the distance, the more the observers are required but on average 20 observers will be employed and distributed equally among the two states.
The data obtained is expected to be near accurate as possible but still there is room for any adjustment to be applied to correct any variance and come up with results that can provide solutions and recommendations to the problem at hand. The process of identifying the research sample accurately is complicated because the population is spread over a large terrain. To locate each target will require an elaborate review of data obtained in the BJS records. The other option will be obtaining information on the location of the population from individuals who have been successfully located. Since the community programs and government monitoring programs bring such groups together, it could be easy if, using interview, those found could be requested to provide information regarding the whereabouts of the others who cannot be reached by the a similar criteria.
There is a degree of tolerance to any imminent disagreement between the various data obtained by different observers, and this calls for a tough decision on whose findings will be rendered valid at the expense of the other. The decision will be based on the conformity of each set of results to the data provided in the BJS records regarding the phenomena under observation. There are other factors that can also bring about such variance and such should be kept as constant as possible. In this case, the findings that show a visible pattern of recurrence over a certain frequency will be picked ahead of the ones that exhibit opposite trends.
Interrater reliability assessment is a key determinant in shaping the outcome of this research. Both sets of variables need to be subjected to a comparison process the existing data portraying the frequency of occurrence of parolee re-arrest as well as the number of ex-inmates who find their way back after a specific period. The validity of the results will be measured concerning the extent to which they concur with the said figures. There should be a large degree of agreement between the two sets of findings to declare a given result as valid. Further assessment of the figures is recommended to come up with a more convincing outcome that beats the interrater reliability threshold provided within the scope of the applied research method.
The intended research will go a long way in providing insight into the deficiency of the available systems of reintegration of ex-offenders and parolees into the society. The need for the urgent and effective review of the systems already in place is key in reversing the soaring figures of parolees who end up in jail within a short duration of their release. This study will be of huge contribution also to other previous studies such as the one mentioned in the literature review section. However, it is worth noting that it is not to be carried out as a critique of the said works but rather a complimentary paper drafted and carried out with the aim of bettering what has already been done. By pointing out at various key areas that the preceding studies have failed to address in one way or another, this research is a vital tool for capturing the attention of the various participants both in state and the community and re-awakening their urge of reintegrating inmates back into the society in the best way possible.
Without any disregard to the existing researches on the same subject, this research is a step forward regarding the core issue it seeks to address. The facts and figures that are obtained at the end of the day are a major step determinant in finding a long-lasting solution to the raging conflict between the community and the state on who among them should bear a greater responsibility for the acceptance and reintegration of ex-inmates into the society. Unlike previous studies that have put more emphasis on prison-based programs through training as the best way to ease this transition, this study identifies and justifies the community as the key factor in determining the future of parolees. It puts the society to task because it is in this environment where individuals spend most of their time before and after serving jail terms. It presents facts and figures in a unique and compelling way that gives the community the chance to take a moment and reflect on what they have done and what they need to do regarding the same subject.
The choice of method in this study was majorly influenced by the ability to acquire other relevant data from the BJS records. This can be considered as a point of strength not only because it will boost the accuracy of the anticipated outcome but also because it will save time a great deal. The information contained in most state department records exhibits a high degree of accuracy and credibility and it is upon such considerations that the research method arrived at (Bachi, 2013). This method, however, is not short of its disadvantages. The proposed monitoring period(6 months) is a considerably long period, and there is a likelihood that some of the observers may give up along the way due to the diminishing interest in the study as time goes by. This long period may also hinder the outcome of the results since some of the ex-inmates under observation might shift from one location to another making the whole task of monitoring them an impossibility.
Based on the anticipated findings and with a consideration of the method to be employed, it is clear that the communities in the two states under study as well as the entire nation ought to re-examine their role in assisting ex-prisoners get their lives back into normal once released back into the society. The study will be able to reveal the extent to which the lack of such mechanisms in the society makes the government efforts to fighting crime through prevention an impossible mission. However, it is hard to conclude the real reason behind the unwillingness of the society to embrace their proposed new role as the leading party in the process of reintegration.
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