Criminal Justice Senior Theses, Capstones, and Internships on Recidivism Reduction Advocacy Strategies

Criminal Justice Senior Theses, Capstones, and Internships on Recidivism Reduction Advocacy Strategies

Edwina Louise Dorch
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 31
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3454-9.ch008
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Each year, thousands of inmates are released from jail and prison. This chapter provides a model for HBCU faculty and students to conceptualize the coordination of services for those who have been incarcerated. The model proposes that faculty and students consider five types of actors: (1) advocacy group coalitions; (2) public agencies; (3) private employment entities; (4) faith-based nonprofits; and (5) philanthropists, secular nonprofits, and foundations. The model proposes that housing, healthcare, and employment are proximal goals that reduce recidivism, a distal goal. Additionally, the model proposes that local advocacy coalitions become prime-movers seeking maximum feasible participation through a series of self-reliance initiatives. Further, the model provides the names of data bases that can provide advocacy coalitions with performance measures to judge their own effectiveness. Senior students in Section 2: Crime, Justice, and Security Studies are taught this model in their research methods, program evaluation, and senior paper classes.
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To date, attempts to address the challenges faced by returning citizens, including those who were imprisoned and suffered the collateral consequences of the War on Drugs, have been supported by two federal programs: Second Chance Grants and Justice Reinvestment Grants. More specifically, since 2007, the Second Chance Act has provided more than 600 grants to 49 states and assisted 137,000 adults and juveniles (Council of State Governments, Justice Center Website, 2017a). However good their intentions, the value of these programs is far from clear.

James (2015), working for the Congressional Research Service, reviewed the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse created by The National Reentry Resource Center in collaboration with the Urban Institute. The Clearinghouse provides access to research on the effectiveness of a variety of reentry programs and practices. James found that research on the relationship between employment programs, halfway houses, GED programs, and recidivism yielded mixed results.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, launched in 2010, was intended to assist 24 states in reducing their incarceration costs and reinvesting the savings in more efficient, evidence-based criminal-justice systems (Council of State Governments, Justice Center Website, 2017b). Yet, recently a group of researchers, analysts, and advocates assessed accomplishments of the Initiative and one of their primary conclusions was that savings from such initiatives were often reinvested in policing and judicial functions rather than in reentry mentoring, training, and housing.

The report concluded that the Justice Reinvestment Initiative’s efforts have tended to focus on the administrative needs of policymakers and have “often marginalized well-established local advocates and justice reformers who have a vested interest in ensuring the sustainability of reforms” (Austin, Cadora, Clear et al., 2013, p. 2).


Predicting Recidivism

Recently, researchers have been able to build a separate predictive model for each type of crime (violence, property, drugs, etc.) and believe they will be able to customize a model for each jurisdiction so that they no longer have to use a “one size fits all” model (Tollenarr, 2017). However, (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006) conclude, the “neighborhood context is fundamental to our understanding of why individuals offend, and potentially even more important for understanding why former offenders offend again, yet we know very little about how the ecological characteristics of communities influence the recidivism rates of this population” (p. 167).

Politicians and researchers who believe that crime is predominantly a result of internal or dispositional attributes also believe that solutions to problems of crime will require changes in the perpetrators of crime. In contrast, politicians and researchers who believe crime is predominantly a result of external, environmental elements believe that we need to change systemic/structural inequities (Unnever, Cochran, Cullen, & Applegate, 2010).

The proposed model presented below presumes that neither view is wholly accurate, that there is substantial truth in both perspectives and that we now have the technological ability to engage in the continuous performance measurement and monitoring of social service programs to determine impacts of both.


Recidivism And Distributed Leadership Across Five Types Of Organizations

As illustrated in the model appearing in Figure 1, this paper proposes that distributed leadership is necessary to achieve the objectives in housing, health care, and employment that will maximize successful reintegration of returning citizens and minimize recidivism. The five types of agencies and organizations that are needed to produce the required collective impact are: (1) advocacy group coalitions; (2) public agencies; (3) private employment entities; (4) faith-based nonprofits; and (5) philanthropists, secular nonprofits and foundations. The roles of each of the above are discussed below.

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