Risk and Rehabilitation: Supporting the Work of Probation Officers in the Community Reentry of Extremist Offenders
Researchers have devoted considerable attention to mass incarceration, specifically its magnitude, costs, and collateral consequences. In the face of economic constraints, strategies to reduce correctional populations while maintaining public safety are becoming a fiscal necessity. This panel will present strategies that states have undertaken to reduce incarceration rates while balancing taxpayer costs with ensuring public safety.
Change doesn't come easy, particularly within an institution as large and complex as the criminal justice system. Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, offered lessons from several efforts to make reform stick in criminal justice settings. In particular, he focused on the development of community courts — experimental court projects that are attempting to reduce both crime and incarceration in dozens of cities across the U.S. and around the world.
What changes are you seeing in corrections and reentry?
Terri McDonald, chief probation officer, Los Angeles County Probation Department and John Wetzel, secretary of corrections, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections talk about recent changes in corrections and reentry. Wetzel elaborates on what the Pennsylvania DOC is facilitating with housing and how it individualizes its reentry programs. McDonald remarks on Los Angeles County’s systems approach to reentry and the idea of treating the whole person.
Professor Ed Latessa describes how his team and he assessed more than 550 programs and saw the best and the worst. Professor Latessa shared his lessons learned and examples of states that are trying to use evidence-based knowledge to improve correctional programs.
Dr. Kirk discusses how Hurricane Katrina affected ex-prisoners originally from New Orleans and their likelihood of returning to prison. Kirk also discussed potential strategies for fostering residential change among ex-prisoners, focusing specifically on parole residency policies and the provision of public housing vouchers.
A small number of offenders who are heavily involved in drugs commit a large portion of the crime in this country. An evaluation of a "smart supervision" effort in Hawaii that uses swift and certain sanctioning showed that heavily involved drug offenders can indeed change their behavior when the supervision is properly implemented.
The criminal justice system encounters and supervises a large number of drug abusing persons. Punishment alone is a futile and ineffective response to the problem of drug abuse. Addiction is a chronic brain disease with a strong genetic component that in most instances requires treatment. Involvement in the criminal justice system provides a unique opportunity to treat drug abuse disorders and related health conditions, thereby improving public health and safety.
The panel presentations from the 2009 NIJ Conference are based on an NIJ-sponsored evaluation of the effectiveness of Kansas Senate Bill 123, which mandates community-based drug abuse treatment for drug possession by nonviolent offenders in lieu of prison.
Interview with Dora Schriro, Arizona Department of Corrections
New science in brain development is transforming young adult involvement with the justice system. On Tuesday, September 8, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, and experts from NIJ and the Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice who serve on the Executive Session on Community Corrections discussed the future of justice-involved young adults.
Funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Pew Center on the States, the justice reinvestment project is a data-driven strategy aimed at policymakers to "reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return." Representatives from two states where the justice reinvestment strategy is currently being implemented will discuss how it is being used to reduce the rate of incarceration and how states can reinvest in local communities.
How can we prevent reoffending and reduce costs? Research points to a number of solutions. At the Tuesday plenary, Judge Steven Alm from Hawaii will describe his successes with hard-core drug offenders. “Swift and sure” is his motto. West Virginia Cabinet Secretary James W. Spears will discuss the issues from his state's perspective, and Adam Gelb, Director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Public Safety Performance Project, will lend a national overview.
This NIJ Conference Panel highlights findings from NIJ projects that evaluated strategies to enhance the supervision of offenders in the community. Researchers discuss the effectiveness of fair, swift and certain sanctions for high-risk probationers in the Hawaii HOPE program. Panelists also provide empirical evidence on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring — including the use of GPS tracking — for medium- and high-risk offenders on supervision and upon completion of their supervision sentence.