Recidivism of offenders is like an endless quagmire as most of the offenders re-enter prison within a few years after their release. Rigorous research has, however, shown that tactical investments into some programs and careful concentration on their implementation and evaluation can lead to the reduction in recidivism. The paper proposes an all-encompassing correctional program with a structure aimed at dealing with criminogenic factors such as lack of education that are the cause of recidivism. It also suggests the ways of evaluating the program and the steps that should be taken to implement all aspects of the program.
The program structure should consider all criminogenic factors that can be evaluated. These factors are the lack of education, substance abuse, criminal thinking, and lack of marketable job skills. According to Gendreau, Smith, and French , most offenders are at a higher risk of recidivating because they have multiple factors. The lack of education makes offenders recidivate once they are released from prison because it is difficult for them to find gainful means of employment and earning an income. The program should, therefore, be structured to provide offenders with an education that will be useful to them once they re-enter the society.
The program structure should also include a segment related to substance abuse treatment. The treatment should be comprehensive and have pre-program, prevention, treatment, and alumni components. The pre-program component focuses on addressing inmates denial of their addiction to substance abuse. The prevention component highlights to offenders the adverse effects of drug addiction. The treatment component provides interventions aimed at changing the criminals’ substance abuse attitudes that usually result in criminal behavior. The alumni component, on its part, is aimed at ensuring that inmates who have completed the treatment do not relapse. In addressing the criminal thinking factor, the program should have a segment of cognitive-behavioral treatment of the prisoners. According to Gendreau, Smith, and French, some offenders commit crimes because they have a criminal mind that makes them always have criminal-related thoughts. The cognitive-behavioral treatment operates on the principle that thinking controls behavior; therefore, changing the thoughts of offenders from negative to positive ones will enable them to stop committing crimes after their re-entry to the society. The program should also have a segment that focuses on the development of the skills of offenders. The skills will enable the inmates to get jobs upon their return to the society.
The Recidivism Index (RI) is effective in the evaluation of every segment of the program and the segments effectiveness in reducing the recidivism rate of offenders. The RI assesses all the criminogenic factors and is administered during an inmates entry into the correctional facility. The RI score of an inmate will determine the likelihood of an inmate to offend and identify the segment of the program that he should be placed in. Moreover, after some time in the program, the RI index is re-administered and the factors checked to gauge whether the inmate is still likely to commit crimes. The result of the second evaluation will help prove whether the program is effective in reducing the chances of offenders to commit crimes. The creation of a code to track the progress of former offenders who were in the program is another way of evaluating the effectiveness of the program in reducing recidivism rates. For example, a code tracking the societal progress of former inmates who were on the job skills segment and had gained marketable job skills will enable the evaluation to show the positive relationship between acquiring job skills and the recidivism level of inmates.
The first step in implementing the program is training the correctional facility staff as they are instrumental in the successful implementation of the program. The staff will be trained on all aspects of the program including the operation of the Risk Index and the Code evaluation systems. In order to ensure the personnel take the implementation of the program seriously, staff performance evaluations will incorporate their performance on the program. The subsequent step in the implementation of the program is the development of an integrated classification system that on the arrival of offenders to the facility will be used to identify the risks of all offenders to recidivate. A classification team composed of the facilitys staff is responsible for predicting the risks of offenders to recidivate based on the lack of education, substance abuse, criminal thinking, and lack of marketable job skills.
In the next step, the staff will use the information they gathered on the risks of the offenders to place them in appropriate segments of the program. The staff working in the education segment of the program will ensure that the education they offer inmates placed in the section is competency-based and allows the offenders to learn at their own pace. In the substance abuse segment, the staff will concentrate on the four aspects of substance abuse treatment, that is, the pre-program, prevention, treatment, and alumni components. In changing the criminal thinking of offenders through cognitive-behavioral treatment, the staff will apply the motivational interviewing strategy. Judges and other motivational speakers talk to inmates and try to develop the convicts’ sense of value. Motivating the offenders will lead to them changing their attitude towards the commission of crimes. The staff will also employ role playing in implementing the criminal thinking segment. The workers will model anti-criminal attitudes and participate in role playing that depicts empathy, interpersonal problem-solving and social skills. These will form a basis for training the inmates to cope with criminogenic experiences. In the job skills training segment, the staff will ensure that the training they offer the offenders will enable them to gain marketable skills that will assist them to find a decent employment upon their release.
During the last months of an inmate’s confinement, a work release segment of the program will be implemented. It will allow the convict to get a paid work in the society before his release. It will help the inmate to reintegrate gradually into the society and will increase his chances of acquiring gainful employment once released from incarceration. Once released to the community, the codes evaluation technique will be used to track the former inmates to determine whether the program is effective in recidivism reduction.
The implementation of a program that tackles criminogenic factors like the lack of education, drug addiction, criminal thinking, and insufficient viable job skills is effective in reducing recidivism. In addressing the lack of education, the program will initiate competency-based education strategies. In dealing with substance abuse, it will apply the four aspects of substance abuse treatment that are pre-program, prevention, treatment, and alumni. Cognitive behavioral treatment will be used to address criminal thinking among offenders. To tackle the lack of job skills, the staff will train inmates to learn marketable job skills. The Recidivism Index and tracking codes will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in reducing recidivism.