Programs That Work Offer a Variety of Approaches

By Kanche, Peggy | Corrections Today, August 1996 | Go to article overview

Programs That Work Offer a Variety of Approaches


Kanche, Peggy, Corrections Today


Two years ago, ACA President Bobbie Huskey formed the Offender Programs Committee to bring together research and information about "what works" in the corrections field.

The charge given the committee included reviewing current research and best practices to identify effective programs. They also must integrate the family into treatment or address offenders with special needs.

A brief survey was sent to ACA affiliates and state administrators requesting information on proven programs that could be showcased. More than 100 programs were submitted to the committee and subsequently reviewed. The review process revealed an interesting variety in approaches to offender needs and programming, as well as a wide range of sophistication in evaluating the results of interventions.

The variance in levels of evaluating data among programs points to an age-old dilemma within corrections. We may "feel" that our programs are addressing offenders' needs in an effective and efficient way; however, we often lack concrete evidence to support our claims.

At ACA's Winter Conference in Philadelphia, Sen. Arlen Specter challenged us to prove that we can provide "realistic rehabilitative programs" or risk discontinued public funding. As corrections budgets consume more and more of public revenues, we must put ourselves in a position to document costs of services, measured outcomes of educational gains, improved employability, restored families, decreases in drag use by offenders, direct benefits of community service projects, victim restitution programs and other evidence of self-reliance demonstrated by offenders. Otherwise, political realities resulting from the public's frustrations with perceived increases in violence and victimization will dictate our policies for us. This will place us in a position of reacting to political demands in our operations instead of focusing on programs that produce the outcomes we desire.

We must ask ourselves how we can determine that our programs are realistic efforts at rehabilitation. …

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