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Latessa, E.J. & Lowenkamp C.T. (2006) What Works in Reducing Recidivism

Latessa, E.J. & Lowenkamp C.T. (2006) What Works in Reducing Recidivism

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ARTICLE
WHATWORKSINREDUCINGRECIDIVISM?
EDWARD
J.
LATESSA*CHRISTOPHERLOWENKAMP**
THEPRINCIPLESOFEFFECTIVEINTERVENTION
Overthepastseveraldecades,scholarsincorrectionshavefocusedincreased-attention.onstudyingtheeffectivenessofcorrectionalinterven-tionsandsanctions.Thereisnowasubstantialbodyofresearchontheeffectivenessofcorrectionalinterventionsinreducingrecidivism.Thisre-searchhasledtotheidentificationofsomekeyfindings,summarizedasthe"principlesofeffectiveintervention."Theseprinciplesformtheconceptualandempiricalunderpinningsforunderstandingthis.bodyofresearch,andthisarticlesummarizesthem.Additionally,findingsfromtwolarge-scalestudiesofcorrectionalprograms,conductedinOhio,willbepresented.Thesefindingswilldemonstratethatthekeyisnolongersimplyidentifyingwhatworks,butinsteaddeterminingwhatconditionsandcharacteristicsofprogramsareassociatedwiththegreatesteffectiveness.The
research
re-portedinthisarticlehelpstosummarizesomeofthekeycharacteristicscorrectionalprogramsneedtofollowtohavesubstantive
impacts
ontherecidivismratesoftheoffenderstheyserve.Mostresearcherswhohavestudiedcorrectionalinterventionshaveconcludedthatwithoutsomeformofhuinaninterventionorservicesthereisunlikelytobeasignificanteffectonrecidivismfrompunishmentalone:Whileevidencefromalargebodyofresearchdemonstratesthattreatmentismoreeffectiveinreducingrecidivismthanpunishmentalone,notalltreat-mentprogramsareequallyeffective.Thisresearchiscollectivelyknownasthe"whatworks"literature."Whatworks"isnotaprogramoranintervention,butabodyofknowledgebasedonoverthirtyyearsofresearchthathasbeenconductedbynumerousscholarsacrossNorthAmerica.'Alsoreferredtoas"evi-
*
Ph.D.,Professor
&
DivisionHead,DivisionofCriminalJustice,UniversityofCincinnati.
.**
Ph.D.,ResearchAssistantProfessor,DivisionofCriminalJustice,UniversityofCincinnati.
1.
Seegenerally
D.A.Andrews,IvanZinger,RobertD.Hoge,JamesBonta,PaulGendreau
&
FrancisT.Cullen,
DoesCorrectionalTreatmentWork?AClinicallyRelevantandPsychologi-
521
 
522
UNIVERSITYOFST.THOMASLAWJOURNAL
[Vol.3:3
dence-basedpractice,"the"whatworks"movementdemonstratesempiri-callythatrecidivismratescanbesignificantlyreducedthroughtheoreticallysound,well-designedprogramsthatappropriatelyapplytheprinciplesof.effectiveintervention.Throughthereviewandanalysisofhundredsofstud-ies,researchershaveidentifiedasetofprinciplesthatshouldguidecorrec-tionalprograms.Knownasthe"principlesofeffectiveintervention,"theycanbesummarizedasrisk,need,treatment,andfidelity..
RiskPrinciple
Thefirstprincipleistheriskprinciple,orthe"who"totarget.Thisprinciplestatesthatourmostintensivecorrectionaltreatmentandinterven-tionprogramsshouldbereservedforhigh-riskoffenders."Risk"inthiscontextreferstothoseoffenderswithahigherprobabilityofrecidivating,whilelow-riskoffendersarethosewhogenerallydisplaypro-socialattrib-utesandhavealowchanceofrecidivating.Onewaytothinkofthedistinc-tionistoconsiderriskfactors.Whoisathigh-riskforcontinuedcriminalconduct-onewhominimizeshisorhercriminalbehavior,hangsaroundwithotherswhogetintotrouble,actsimpulsively,neverfinisheshighschool,andhasdifficultymaintainingemployment;oronewhoacceptsre-sponsibilityforhisorheractions,hasfriendswhoavoidtrouble,finishesschool,andisgainfullyemployed?Clearlytheformerisatgreaterriskforcontinuedcriminalbehaviorandhasagreaterneedforintervention,whilethelatterisunlikelytore-offend.Squanderingourscarcecorrectionaltreatmentprogramresourcesonlow-fiskoffendersthatdonotneedthemisawasteofthoseresources.Moreimportantly,researchhasclearlydemonstratedthatwhenweplacelow-riskoffendersinourmoreintenseprograms,weoftenincreasetheirfailurerates(andthusreducetheoveralleffectivenessofthe
program)."
Thereareseveralreasonsthisoccurs.First,placinglow-riskoffendersinwithhigh-riskoffendersmayleadtoan"education"inanti-socialbehaviorforthelow-riskoffender.Forexample,let'ssaythatyourteenagesonordaughterdidnotusedrugs,butgotintosometroublewiththe.law.Wouldyouwanthimorherinaprogramorgroupwithheavydrugusers?Ofcoursenot,sinceitismorelikelythatthehigh-riskyouthswouldinfluence
callyInformedMeta-Analysis,
29Criminology369(1990);PaulGendreau,
ThePrinciplesofEf-fectiveInterventionWithOffenders,
in
ChoosingCorrectionalOptionsThatWork:DefiningtheDemandandEvaluatingtheSupply,
117(AlanT.Harlanded.,SagePublications1996).2.ChristopherT.Lowenkamp
&
EdwardJ.Latessa,
UnderstandingtheRiskPrinciple:HowandWhyCorrectionalInterventionsCanHarmLow-RiskOffenders,
TopicsinCommunityCorrections3,6(2004);ChristopherT.Lowenkamp
&
EdwardJ.Latessa,
IncreasingtheEffec-tivenessofCorrectionalProgrammingThroughtheRiskPrinciple:IdentifyingOffendersforResi-dentialPlacement,
4(2)CriminologyandPub.Policy263,277'(2005)[hereinafterLowenkamp,
IncreasingtheEffectiveness];
ChristopherT.Lowenkamp,Edward
J.
Latessa
&
AlexanderMHolsinger,
TheRiskPrincipleinAction:WhatHaveWeLearnedFrom
13,676
Offendersand97CorrectionalPrograms?
52
(1)
CrimeandDelinquency77,89(2006).
 
2006]
WHATWORKSINREDUCINGRECIDIVISM?
523
yourchildmorethantheotherwayaround.Second,placinglow-riskof-fendersintheseprogramsalsotendstodisrupttheirpro-socialnetworks;inotherwords,theveryattributesthatmakethemlow-riskbecomeinter-rupted,suchasschool,employment,family,andsoforth.Remember,thesecharacteristics(e.g.,schoolperformance,employment,lackofsubstanceabuse,pro-socialfriends,ana.goodfamilyrelationships)arewhatdefinelow-riskoffenders.Ofcourse,low-riskoffendersmayrequiresomeinter-vention(theydidbreakthelawafterall);however,simplyholdingthemaccountablefortheiractions,andimposingsomeminimalsanctionisusu-allysufficienttopreventrecidivism.
NeedPrinciple
Thesecondprincipleisreferredtoastheneedprinciple,orthe"what"totarget.Theneedprinciplestatesthatprogramsshouldtargetcrime-pro-ducingneeds(i.e.,criminogenicfactors)suchasanti-socialpeerassocia-tions,anti-socialpersonalitytraits,substanceabuse,lackofproblem-solvingandself-controlskills,anti-socialattitudes,valuesandbeliefs,andotherfactorsthatarehi&_hlycorrelatedwithcriminalconduct.
3
Programsneedtoensurethatthevastmajorityoftheirinterventionsarefocusedonthesefactors.Non-criminogenicfactorssuchasself-esteem,physicalconditioning,understandingone'scultureorhistory,andcreativeabilitieswillnothavemucheffectonreducingcriminalconduct,sincethesefactorshavenotbeenfoundtobehighlycorrelatedwithcriminalbehavior.Anexampleofaprogramthattendstotargetnon-criminogenicfactorscanbeseeninoffender-based,military-stylebootcamps.Theseprogramstendtofocusonnon-criminogenicfactors,suchasdrillandceremony,physicalconditioning,discipline,self-esteem,andbondingoffenderstogether.Be-causetheytendtofocusonnon-crime-producingneeds,moststudiesshowthatbootcampshavelittleimpactonfuturecriminalbehavior,"andmayinfactincreasefailureratessincetheyoftenmodelaggressivebehaviorandbondcriminalanddelinquentgroupstogether,whichissomethingthatshouldbeavoidedwiththispopulation.
TreatmentPrinciple
Thethirdprincipleisthetreatmentprinciple,andtellsus"how"togoabouttargetingoffenders'needs.Thisprinciplestatesthatthemosteffec-tiveprogramsarebehavioralinnature.Behavioralprogramshaveseveralattributes.First,theyarecenteredonthe
present
circumstancesandrisk
3.D.A.Andrews,JamesBonta
&
J.StephenWonnith,
TheRecentPastandNearFutureofRiskand/orNeedAssessment,
52(1)CrimeandDelinquency7,11(2006)[hereinafterAndrews,
TheRecentPast].
·4.DorisLaytonMackenzie,DavidB.Wilson
&
SuzanneB.Kider,
EffectsofCorrectionalBootCampsonOffending,
578AnnalsAm.Acad.Pol.
&
Soc.Sci.126,138(2001).

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