Member Input Sought on Draft Policies
Editor's note: At the Winter Conference, the Board of Governors and Delegate Assembly adopted a policy on crime prevention. They also reviewed three draft policies on violence reduction, correctional health care and offenders with special needs. The Resolutions and Policy Development Advisory Committee is now seeking member input on the three draft policies. To respond, please contact Robert Brown, Chairman, Resolutions and Policy Development Advisory Committee, 1912 Kuerbitz, Lansing, MI 48906; (517) 323-1183.
In other ACA business, the Board of Governors and Delegate Assembly reaffirmed, without changes, resolutions on a drug-free correctional workforce, incarceration of undocumented immigrants, no-smoking policies and the term "correctional officer." They reaffirmed, with changes, resolutions on international staff exchange and handgun control. They also adopted a new resolution on the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Draft Public Correctional Policy On Violence Reduction
Introduction: Of utmost concern to the public and those working in both the criminal and juvenile justice systems is the increasing fear of violence in our society. Particularly troubling is the marked escalation of violence among our youths, especially involving the use of firearms. While national data indicate that the violent crime rate overall has declined in recent years, the severity of violent acts and the perception of potential personal injury have risen sharply. There is a sense that the risk of becoming a homicide victim has grown, that the occurrence of gun-related violence is increasing, and that widespread drug trafficking, substance abuse and gang activity are directly linked as causal factors to this problem.
Statement: Traditionally, the response of the criminal justice system -and recently within some segments of the juvenile justice system as well - has been deterrence, punishment and incarceration. While research shows that violent behavior often is related to continued exposure to violence in families, schools, communities, and through the entertainment media, the criminal and juvenile justice systems are in a unique position to assume a more active, focused role in violence reduction/prevention. In particular, corrections professionals and agencies can impact violence through their work directly with offenders and indirectly through their support of violence prevention policies. Specifically, corrections professionals and agencies should:
A. Train corrections staff early on in their work with offenders to recognize those risk factors that contribute to violent behavior and to utilize effective intervention strategies and techniques to reduce violence within this population;
B. Design and implement effective drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs utilizing a wide range of modalities so that a continuum of interventions appropriately addressing this problem is available to all offenders in need and seeking help;
C. Provide offenders and their families counseling and parenting skills training programs that emphasize the need to break the "cycle of violence," whereby a childhood history of physical and psychological abuse predisposes the victim to become a perpetrator of violence in later years;
D. Integrate conflict-resolution models into institutional/corrections treatment programs so that offenders and their families can be taught conflict resolution and life skills competency techniques as effective alternatives to violent behavior;
E. Establish victim impact/awareness programs that bring more balance to the system by allowing victims an increased role in the justice process and by requiring offenders to confront the implications of their violent acts, thereby contributing to the restoration of the offender, victim and community;
F. Provide effective community supervision - including comprehensive, integrated parole/aftercare services - that promotes community protection, aids in the development of offender skills and competency, and holds the violent offender accountable;