Within the past several decades’ many researchers have focused on correctional rehabilitation. As stated by Martinson, rehabilitation was unattainable. Although this is the belief of some, facts will challenge the nothing works theory. Researchers have concluded that correctional s services and programs can be useful in reducing recidivism. It is essential to state not all methods and programs are equal in rehabilitating offenders. The most effective programs are evidenced based.
An evidenced program is known to be effective, but there are barriers to implementing programs within a correctional setting.
Evidenced-based programs reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and hold the client accountable for their actions. In order for programs to result in positive outcomes, the programs implemented with a commitment from staff. They must adhere to core principles, ongoing training of staff, and ensure clients can continue treatment once released from correctional facilities.
When implementing an evidence-based program, the agency should gauge its capacity to implement a new program model. In doing so, it will provide insight on several important matters.
It will provide feedback on the agencys culture. In other words, it is essential to understand the views of those within the agency. The CEO, administrators, supervisors, and clinicians must be on the same page and committed to implementing the program. If there are any doubters of the effectiveness of evidence-based programs, this could not only jeopardize the program, but it will be a disservice to clients of the program. The goals of the agency centered on the program model and commitment to clients.
In order to fully understand the challenges of implementing an evidence-based program, it is essential to look at some of the most common challenges.
Is the agency fully committed to implementing an evidenced-based program? A significant challenge is not committing to leadership and staff. It is essential to understand; change is a difficult concept for staff within an organization converting to a new program. Often due to their lack of knowledge of the new program model. Alcoholic Anonymous and twelve-step programs are common within the correction community. They have been in place for decades, and for many these programs are effective. Often, there is the belief of if it is not broken, why fix it. In reality, alcoholic anonymous, and twelve-step programs are based on understanding failure is a part of recovery. Evidence-based programs are proven methods in reducing recidivism and helping individuals to understand the consequences of negative thoughts and behaviors. If an individual can recognize negative thoughts, they will avoid acting negatively.
The most effective way to get staff on board is to educate them on the concept of evidence-based programs. Providing training, and materials which will help them to understand how evidenced-based programs can change their clients lives, and provide a valuable service for their community. It is also essential for lower level staff to see the commitment by leadership to implement the program model. If leadership is not sold on the implementation of the program, it will not succeed within the organization.
Motivational readiness- what is the level of motivation from leadership and staff. It is essential to understand, some within the organization will need to see a need for change. They will believe the program in place is working, and the need for an evidence-based program is unnecessary and time-consuming. The pressure which comes with change can mean a mass exodus of staff. The individuals who remain will question the function of the agency. Then there is the implementation of training which will introduce evidenced-based principles within the agency.
The next step is to obtain staff attributes. In other words, can staff adapt to the implementation of the evidenced-based program? Do the current staff have the skills to implement a successful evidence-based program? Most importantly are they willing to get on board, and motivate others to be open to change, and be committed to the implementation of the evidence-based model?
The climate of the agency is vital in the implementation of the new program. The goals and mission of the agency must be clear, and staff must understand the mission and goals of the agency. They must also trust the changes which are about to come will benefit the clients and the community they serve.
Before implementing the agency must ensure staffing is adequate, and have the ability, and desire to teach the model. The organization must ensure training is ongoing, and staff are being developed to lead, and supervise within the program. Proper funding is a necessity to ensure the stability and future of the program. The evidenced-based program should meet the needs of the community in which it serves.
Risk, Need, And Responsivity (RNR) in the state of Ohio. In 2009, the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI), in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), created and validated the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS)a fourth generation actuarial risk assessment system1 designed to help correctional agencies identify offenders risk and criminogenic need factors. The goal of the involved agencies was to create a new risk assessment system which would help correctional agencies within the state of Ohio.
There are several different forms of correctional agencies within Ohio. There are community corrections programs which are residential and non-residential. These programs are focused on serving convicted offenders. Although the majority of the programs receive funds from the state, they are often operated by social services agencies within the state. The goal of community corrections programs is to reduce the number of non-violent offenders from entering jails and state prisons. Reducing the number of offenders from entering state and local correctional facilities is not only beneficial in reducing correctional budgets, but it also helps the offender in the rehabilitation process. Community corrections programs and halfway houses provide expensive treatment for the offender which is proven to reduce recidivism.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction requested that the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute examine the effectiveness of halfway houses and Community Based Correctional Facility in Ohio at reducing recidivism. Within the next few paragraphs I will list some of the findings, and how the data provided can genuinely make an impact on the criminal justice system and corrections.
One of the most exciting findings in the study stated: reductions in recidivism varied substantially based on offenders risk levels. The study went on to verify that providing intensive interventions to higher risk offenders resulted in reductions in recidivism. On the other hand, providing intensive interventions to lower risk offenders increased recidivism (Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2002). The data validates the importance of providing the correct form of intervention and treatment to offenders. Once again the cookie cutter approach is not effective and can lead to recidivism. It is supported by a study of community correctional supervision programs (Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2005).
It is essential to mention that correctional agencies across the state of Ohio used a variety of risk assessment instruments. Some of the assessment tools were home-grown, and others were standard risk assessment tools. Some facilities failed to use any form of the risk assessment tool. After consultation with The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, OCJS, and local jurisdictions, a decision was made to standardize the offender assessment process across the state of Ohio by developing a non-proprietary assessment system. The assessment tool created was called the Ohio Risk Assessment System. The Ohio Risk Assessment System is unique for two reasons. First, it assesses individuals at several points in the criminal justice system, including pretrial, community supervision, prison intake, and prison reentry. Second, it promotes consistency and objectivity in the assessment of offenders risk and needs across the state as well as throughout the criminal justice system as a whole. These characteristics lead to improved communication amongst staff and help agencies avoid duplication of information from one point in the system to another (Vera Institute of Justice, 2011).
The implementation of the Ohio Risk Assessment System will benefit the criminal justice and corrections system in Ohio by providing a reliable assessment instrument within Ohio with a consistent meaning. It will reduce duplication and enhances communication and sharing of information. The Ohio, Risk Assessment System, Gathers information regarding potential barriers to treatment for each offender. The system will expand as the Offender moves through different processing stages. The Ohio Risk Assessment System is fully automated with the potential for auto-population to other IT systems. It provides thorough and useful information to aid in informed decision making by staff members. The system will allow professional discretion and overrides. Since the system relies on instruments, it can significantly distinguish between risk levels and assist in the more efficient allocation of supervision and treatment resources. The system will generate case plans that identify and prioritize individual offender needs and specific treatment domains. Most importantly it can predict the likelihood of re-arrest and recidivism at different points in the criminal justice system.
The Ohio, Risk Assessment System, updated in 2013. Under House Bill 86, the Ohio Risk Assessment System must be used to evaluate the likelihood of future crimes by adult offenders. Every municipal, county must use the Ohio Risk Assessment System, and common pleas court in Ohio, when it orders an assessment for sentencing or other purposes. Other agencies such as Probation Department serving those courts, State and Local correctional institutions, and Private correctional institutions, Community Based Correctional Facilities, Adult Parole Authority, and the Ohio Parole Board are required to use the Ohio Risk Assessment System.
Today, the Ohio Risk Assessment System has ten tools used at different critical decision points in order to determine the risk level and needs of an offender. The tools include: Pre-Trial Tool (PAT), Community Supervision Screening Tool (CSST), Community Supervision Tool (CST), Prison Screening Tool (PST), Prison Intake Tool (PIT), Reentry Tool (RT), Supplemental Reentry Tool (SRT), Misdemeanor Screening Tool (MST), Misdemeanor Assessment Tool (MAT), and Static Tool (ST). The implementation of the tools listed once again ensures the offender is treated as an individual and given the best opportunity to be rehabilitated.
If we take a look at a few of the tools, we will see the results given for a specific area.
ORAS Pretrial Assessment Tool The PAT was developed using a sample of 452 offenders across multiple jurisdictions in Ohio. The average time at risk for the Pretrial Tool was 11.9 months. The tool was split almost evenly by race, with 50.2% of the sample White and 46.5% African American. Gender divided approximately 75% male and 25% female. The PAT was designed to predict new arrests, offenders likelihood of failing to appear in court and failure for either reason at the pretrial stage of the criminal justice system.
The Ohio Risk Assessment System Community Supervision Tool one of the more widely studied tools within the ORAS suite of instruments is the CST. The CST has demonstrated its ability to predict re-arrest, except for the PAT which also includes failure to appear, across multiple and diverse jurisdictions. Originally developed and validated on a sample of offenders from Ohio, the CST was revalidated on offender samples from Indiana, Texas, and Massachusetts.
The Community Supervision Tool (CST) Validation Results Initial data for the community supervision sample was gathered through site visits to local county probation offices and community-based corrections facilities and provided information from 678 individuals. The self-report survey and structured interview guide provided a total of 200 potential predictors of recidivism. In all, the CST consisted of a total of 35 items within seven domains: criminal history; education, employment, and finances; family and social support, neighborhood problems, substance abuse, antisocial associates; and antisocial attitudes and behavioral problems. Risk scores on the CST ranged from 0 to 43 and correlated .37 (p