This article, which originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Corrections Today, discusses two recent contributions by the neuroscience field to National Institute of Justice-supported studies, one on correctional officer wellness and the second on the effects of brain trauma on reentry after incarceration.
The author of this article reports on how neuroscience inquiries are making important contributions to the field of correctional research; the two topics discussed are on correctional officer wellness and the effects of brain trauma on reentry success. The first study described by the author investigated the impacts of long-term exposure to work-related stress among Oregon correctional officers in medium and high-security facilities by using MRI imaging in order to detect certain biomarkers. The second topic is an examination of the prevalence and lingering effects of past traumatic brain injury (TBI) on justice-involved individuals and how those effects may contribute to their criminal justice involvement and act as a barrier to their successful reentry. The author suggests that understanding the prevalence and consequences of past brain trauma among that population, especially in terms of criminogenic risk and needs, will facilitate effective reentry programming. The author describes several recently funded studies to evaluate reentry interventions for people suffering from TBI, including one at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City and another at the RHI Foundation of Indianapolis, in Indiana; and notes that these studies are part of a larger program incorporating neuroscience applications across the criminal justice field in order to gain a better understanding about how best to integrate relevant research findings into the laws and programming that affect criminal justice operations and outcomes system-wide.