Friday, April 25, 2014

Desist! Rethinking 'What Works'

A Texas probation department director sent me a note this week declaring:
When you get a chance you might want to check out this report from the UK Ministry of Justice (pdf) that recently reviewed the evidence in support of rehabilitative efforts that address criminogenic needs.  The reading is not pleasant.  About the only programs that address criminogenic needs that correlate to a reduction in recidivism are employment and cognitive programs.  It appears that "what works" isn’t working so well.  The problem is that if we keep doing the same thing over and over again, the reduction in recidivism will plateau and we will be expending more resources and getting diminishing results.

I am not suggesting that we abandon our treatment efforts but we need to implement a new strategy for reducing recidivism.  The Europeans for several years now have been looking at “desistance.”  Desistance examines the factors as to why some people eventually quit a life of crime and then try to implement strategies that encourage desistance in others.  ... So far desistance has not been getting much attention in the US, much less Texas.  Everyone wants to rely solely on a treatment model, even if the evidence in support of such of model isn’t all that great and the evidence for a desistance model is encouraging.
The line about "what works" refers to a set of correctional theories about community supervision centered around treatment and other relatively intensive rehabilitation programs. I'm looking forward to reading the linked report (pdf) and may have more to say on the subject of "desistance" after that, but thought I'd pass the resource along.


MaxM said...

My friend and colleague, Michael Clark,up in Michigan has a good piece on this supporting the idea that should put more emphasis on the offender’s desire to succeed in life rather than just pushing for them to be less at risk to reoffend.
Frankly, I don’t know of any normal/successful person that gets out of bed in the morning and asks himself, “How can I be less of a risk today?” In my work with offenders, consistent with this idea of looking at “why they go straight”, I’ve found that using a form of cognitive training called ACT -Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (and/or training) coupled with Motivational Interviewing (both are recognized Evidence Based Practices) to be quite effective at helping them identify their reasons for behavior change and committing to actions in support of those changes.

Unknown said...

How do I reach you sorry this is probably the wrong way to do this thanks

I am trying desperately to get in contact with this Blogger I am a criminal defense attorney. We have a case and an issue I think you would really be interested in discussion. It involves scrutinizing long held DPS policies and procedures for troopers. My firm is conducting a multiple defendant motion to suppress hearing on May 1, 2014. Some of the oldest and most seasoned prosecutors and DPS personnel are involved in validating long held DPS policies and procedures.

These policies and procedures have long been criticized from the inside, but never exposed to the crucible of cross examination in the Court room. Based on new research that was published and relied on by Congress and the GAO. In 2010, the GAO reported a review of the Aviation Security American airports post 9/11.

This report exposed the junk science nature of deception detection. The same deception detection that DPS has used and continues to use in interdiction stops and searches. The science underlying behavior patterns to determine deception is invalid.

I would love to visit with you directly. The hearing is set May 1, 2014, Atascosa County, Judge Donna Rayes, 81st Judicial District. The prosecutors are Rene Pena's Office and the current first chair assigned is Carrie Moy, (currently in a run off for this Judicial Bench ending May 27). One expert witness is a long time DPS employee and upper management that is retired and in consulting.

here is all my contact

Brandon Daniel & Hudson


cell 830 534 4924
ofc 210 222 2297


Anonymous said...

Criminogenic factors? Maybe it's their values, maybe it's their attitudes, maybe it their culture. Maybe it's that sense of entitlement and a resistance to education and to the development of productive habits. Maybe it's just criminal thinking.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe not.

sunray's wench said...

There is a lot of telling people what they have to do, and not much asking people what they want to do, be, achieve in America. By the time inmates are inmates, they have often spent a lot of time trying to be what everyone else wants them to be - by any means available - without any clear plan of why they are doing that and whether it is actually what is good for them.

Ask someone what they would really like to do, what job, what kind of life, and then give them the tools and guidance to get there, and you will have less recidivism in ANY country.

Anonymous said...

I cannot see Texas republicans adopting this type of rehabilitative approach to crime fighting. After all, democrats pushed this for two decades before republicans came to power largely on promises to get tough on crime, and admitting their harsh technique doesn't work would be akin to admitting that democrats were right all along. Hell, Texas republicans don't even have the balls to decriminalize marijuana..

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@4:26, that's quite a piece of revisionist history you've got going there. Texas didn't pass much significant reform legislation until Republicans came to power. Instead, while the Dems were running things Texas tripled the size of the prison system starting in the Ann Richards administration.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

FleaStiff said...

UK has generally lighter sentences so someone who gets out of prison will likely still have a family. In the USA our sentences are so long that jobs and families are destroyed and a prisoner gets out to a state of hopelessness.

Anonymous said...

Republicans have ran Texas since 1995, when Bush toppled Richards. And since 1995 we've had more prisons built than any other time. Yes, a few were indeed built when Richards was governor but Texas had already began electing republican legislators who referred to democrats as having "revolving door prisons", being "soft on crime", etc. as part of their campaigns.

Governor Bush dismantled Richard's prison alcohol and drug treatment programs, stopped the dental program where inmates could get their teeth fixed or fitted with dentures, and saw some 45 new prisons built during his terms as governor (doesn't include private prisons).

I tend to back up most all of my assertions when I post comments. I didn't do that earlier because I thought everyone was old enough to remember when republicans came to power here in Texas and what they used in their campaigns to trash the democrats. Liberals the world over always have preferred rehabilitation to punishment.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@3:32, Republicans didn't take over the state legislature until 2003. The prisons built during Bush's term were approved and financed by the bond issue Ann Richards pushed through a Democrat-controlled legislature, it's just that construction wasn't completed until she was out of office. Also, Democrats != "liberals." Again, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, just not their own facts.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell any of the hoopleheads that this idea comes from "socialist" Europe, or they'll reject it out of hand.

Unknown said...

I'm convinced that criminal justice reform is one area where both D's & R's can agree. It's just a matter of coming up with practical ideas....and then drumming up the support they require. Preparing inmates for life in the real world is not rocket just doesn't fit with the revenge/punishment approach that dominates current thinking. Those darn socialists in Europe believe that life in prison should mirror, as much as possible life in the real world. Imagine that! Requiring work, cooperation, financial self support. Too radical for Texas!

rodsmith said...

charlotte I think the only thing the "R's & D's" can agree on is that both have no problem spending massive amount of other peoples money. Usually on something nobody outside of gov't would agree on.

Anonymous said...

All this back & forth about gangs and political prisoners deflected everyone's attention from the post at hand. Doh!

Now, lets get back to this cease & desist topic.

sunray's wench said...

It makes me chuckle when people say we're all socialists over here - seeing as in the UK we've had a Conservative government for the past 4 years.

You just need a way to pitch it so that Reps can agree without losing face.