Need to measure success of offender programs?
|OHIOco 10 posts
Hello,My name is Jacob Metzger. I work for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. I am e-mailing you in regards to a scared straight type of program I want to start at my institution. I was hoping you might have some kind of resource that could help me with legal issues, liability issues and solutions to each of those. I was also wanting inquire as to see if you knew of any other agency I could contact to get some ideas. If you could get back with me I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.
|satnica 5 posts
Librarian, thanks for your help.
Although this is only the beginning, we strongly believe that we will achieve the level of development and effectiveness, such as prison libraries in the Netherlands, Denmark or Germany, for example.
|Librarian 6 posts
Professional Standards for Prison Libraries (start here)
Example of Maryland Correctional Libraries
Example of Colorado Correctional Libraries (inspirational)
Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program
Wild imagination inspiring research into the role of reading to learn social connection:
Major Seed Work: Hakemulder, F. J., 2000, The Moral Laboratory: Experiments Examining The effects of Reading Literature on Social Perception and Moral Self-knowledge, Amsterdam: Benjamins. (Scholar)
|satnica 5 posts
Librarian, this debate is very much alive in our library circles, of course, on a theoretical level only, considering that in Croatian prison system PCs are not available to prisoners (not because of the censorship, simply, not provided through a budget). That is also the reason for the gap in computer literacy education programs, although the interest among inmates, particularly young, is very high.
|Librarian 6 posts
Prison librarian from Croatia, Satnica wrote:
Here is the web site for “The Prisoners Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights”: http://www.ifmanual.org/prisoners
I personally do not agree with allowing inmates access to the public through the Internet but the public library profession was adamant because of their professional training in Freedom of Speech. Most of the people who actually work in prison libraries have a greater focus on public safety and maintaining the prison walls between inmates and the general public. Public librarians primarily focus on access to information. There are ways to satisfy both but the debate is heated enough to degenerate to elaborate “straw man” accusations.
|Librarian 6 posts
“I want to promote reading among the prisoners, yes, but I strongly want to promote establishment of regular, equipped and professional prison libraries, which today are not yet present in the prison system. The reasons are many, no money, no professional staff, no political will. Neither side (libraries or prisons) recognizes their interest for increased engagement in order to make a change in the present bad situation.
I believe inmates around the world who know how to read, read much more than their counter parts of the same age in the free population. Here is an article I wrote for Corrections Today that may help in promoting prison libraries in your country:
“…reading is beneficial to the prison population in many ways and inmates enjoy reading books. Even though their reading skills measure lower than those of the general public, 50 percent of inmates read books daily, much more often than people in a similar age group outside of prison.”
I am presently writing a proposal for providing eReaders to inmates. I found one from Germany that has no access to the Internet or any wireless capabilities. Each eReader can store a library full of books. The idea is to provide an eReader for “rent/deposit” to inmates who have a record of good behavior. Paperback books pose problems with hiding contraband and spreading germs. They also seldom last a year if they are a popular title. The pilot project will assess how long the eReader will last. If each eReader will last more than 3 years, we will load several eReaders with different ebook titles and have access to thousands of books without the need to provide paper book shelf space or repair them with tools such as scissors and tape.
|satnica 5 posts
“How interested is the prison staff and prison authorities in the public library? Do you want to promote reading or research? Do you imagine the book for the guided reading would be fiction or non-fiction? "
Librarian, thank you for your interest and effort around the Croatian literature and the Homeland War. (In Dubrovnik was badly damaged old Archives.)
If you are interested, here is a link to the IFLA newest World report with the state of play in Croatian librarianship: http://archive.ifla.org/faife/report/41%20IFLA-FAIFE%202007%20CR%20-%20Croatia.pdf
As for your questions, in short, of course, prison authorities are interested in any form of a treatment program, which evidently leads to improvements in prisoner behavior, attitude change, and in the process of their rehabilitation, and ultimately, to reduced recidivism.In that sense, there are no obstacles for partnership with public libraries, or other forms of art therapies. For example, in Croatian prison Valtura, near town Pula,professor Zejlko Brgles has been using the practice of yoga nidra with prisoners to bring about a transformation in their behaviour and to enable them to return to the community as physically, mentally and morally rehabilitated persons.
His data shows changes in the convicts’ behaviour and attitudes, with less aggression, anxiety and impulsiveness, and a general improvement in the social climate, interrelationships and communication between prisoners. Prisoners also reported feeling calmer, sleeping better, reduced insomnia, relief of tension headaches and a more positive attitude to their life in prison. (see in: Croatian review of rehabilitation research, ISSN 1331-3010).
I want to promote reading among the prisoners, yes, but I strongly want to promote establishment of regular, equipped and professional prison libraries, which today are not yet present in the prison system. The reasons are many, no money, no professional staff, no political will, and in fact, neither side (libraries or prisons) does not recognize their interest for increased engagement in order to make a change in the present bad situation.
However, it should be mentioned as a bright spot in the activities of Bibliobus of public libraries of town Bjelovar, who regularly visited the county jail. Statistics : prisoners read more than free users.
Librarian, as you say, I want to bring my world to you, so I have a question, is there a way for private communication with each other, of course, if you agree with that? I think the direction were our conversation is going will not be really interesting to others on this forum.
|Librarian 6 posts
“….This pilot project of the guided reading is an attempt to establish cooperation between public libraries and prison staff, which would, hopefully, show that the library services can be used within the treatment programs. Further intention is to raise awareness of the importance of the modern, equipped and functional prison library and library services among the prison authorities, and among the librarian community in the same time. To put it simply, it’s two-direction advocacy….”
I am having trouble imagining your world which will become more evident by my questions as well as my suggestion. Please forgive me my ignorance.
During the 1991-1995 war the libraries in eastern, central and southern Croatia were destroyed, especially the libraries in the city of Dubrovnik. How interested is the prison staff and prison authorities in the public library? Do you want to promote reading or research? In my world, a “guided reading” could have an academic goal such as educating a group on a topic of their shared profession. It could also be finding one book for everyone in a group to read and then discuss. Do you imagine the book for the guided reading would be fiction or non-fiction? Here are resources I dare to suggest in either case:
A survey of Croatian bibliographies, compiled by Branko Franolić, Croatian Information Centre (Zagreb, London, New York, Toronto, Sydney), 2004, ISBN 953-6058-30-8
Population: 4,489,409 (July 2009 est.)*
|satnica 5 posts
Librarian, thank you for your response. I feel the need to emphasize two things. First, In Croatia, not a single educated librarian works in correction facilities. There is no work position prison librarian, and equally, there is no official education/training for prison librarians. Yes, there are libraries in prisons; (in fact, more proper term would be stationeries with printed materials), but library services are occasionally carried out by the inmates or someone from treatment staff. This pilot project of the guided reading is an attempt to establish cooperation between public libraries and prison staff, which would, hopefully, show that the library services can be used within the treatment programs. Further intention is to raise awareness of the importance of the modern, equipped and functional prison library and library services among the prison authorities, and among the librarian community in the same time. To put it simply, it’s two-direction advocacy. Secondly, to avoid confusion, Croatia library science and library system is highly developed, we study librarianship on University, even have doctoral degree, are librarians are active members of IFLA, EBLIDA professional bodies etc. Only, the prisoners are not in the focus of interest. I hope that my doctorate run developments/changes in this direction.
|Librarian 6 posts
“Hello, my name is Zeljka. I am a librarian from the Croatia. Along with rehabilitation staff, I am just preparing a pilot project of guided reading and discussion in one Croatian prison, semi-open type. Has anyone experience with similar projects in your institution? I would appreciate any useful information. Thank you.”
Zeljka – I am a prison librarian in Oregon. I assume your inmates will not be reading English, however there are some guidelines I can share that could cross cultures.
First Question: In the U.S. there are studies done for the last 60 years attempting to identify the existence and define the characteristics of “the criminal mind”. Would the criminal mind be different in another culture? Maybe yes, but maybe not. Would some cultures facilitate “criminal thinking” better than another. I would say a resounding yes.
Second Question: Assuming there is a criminal mind (and not merely the addictive triangle of “Persecutor,Victim, Rescuer”), there are 3 approaches to change the criminal mind. One approach is psychological, another is coercion (punishment & reward), and the third is pro-social identification.
The Oregon Department of corrections has the lowest rate of recidivism in the U.S. The department administration has accepted the idea that there are characteristics of criminal thinking as researched by Samenow and Latessa. Also, the focus has been on Evidence Based Practice to identify programs that reduce recidivism. They are Drug & Alcohol anti-addiction programs, Mental Health support and increasing job skills (confined by the public to high school graduation).
I am not a psychologist, I am not a drug counselor and I am not directly connected to managing education classes. I am a librarian and as a librarian I have researched the effects of reading on the reader and how it might enhance pro-social emotional investment in society. I discovered literacy programs in various states often entitled “Changing Lives through Literature”. These programs have lists of books used for group discussion. The common thread in all the books has an element of pro-social group identity. Therefore I suggest you consider books that will fit a homogeneous book group.
The hardest group identity would be focused on race or religion. In the U.S. often race becomes anti-social group identity in the form of gangs. Usually the correctional officer response to gangs is prevention rather than re-directing racial group identity to a healthy group based on pro-social norms. The easiest group identity would be either readers, writers, artists, athletes, homeless, unemployed, etc. However, there are not many stories that tell a story of a team overcoming adversity, usually the story is about one particular hero.
|Neal 4 posts
Absolutely no connection has been found linking lower offender revidivism to greater frequency of contact with a probation offficer/agent. What has been found effective in lowering recidivism rates in study after study is the quality of that contact and how well it addresses the offender’s underlying causal factors. This is why careful assessment is important. It identifies those most likely to recidivate, and the most likely underlying causal factors contributing to that prediction. Using that information, correctional staff can make better decisions regarding who gets what kinds of programming, and when. Given that there are usually long waiting lists for programming, it makes no sense to simply take the next person off the waiting list if they are identified by the assessment as low risk, with a fairly low need for the program under consideration. It just wastes a spot that could have better served someone at higher risk with greater need.
And, of course, programming should be based on a proven, research-supported curriculum, with results being carefully tracked to see how well the program works in reducing recidivism, who it works best for, at what intensity, and whether it is cost-effective compared to other evidence-based alternatives.
|satnica 5 posts
Hello, my name is Zeljka. I am a librarian from the Croatia. Along with rehabilitation staff, I am just preparing a pilot project of guided reading and discussion in one Croatian prison, semi-open type. Has anyone experience with similar projects in your institution? I would appreciate any useful information. Thank you.
|ebooksbc 3 posts
After the program has been funded, the commitment has been made, and the staff has bought into it, good offender programs begin with good assessment, accurately assessing the barriers, attitudes, and realistic goals of potential participants. The most effective programs are those that address key areas of risk in the offender’s life, those that seek to strengthen the personal, that contribute to healthy development, those that provide adequate support, and those that offer long-term stake in the community.
|Wiseguy 12 posts
|dpdpar5 6 posts
I have been in corrections casework for about 20 years in some capacity and in all that time I have seen many programs implemented. There are infact several factors that determine the success of a program—staff quality—legitimacy of the program and agency committment to it— the reliability and validity of the instrument tool utilized for measurement.
|Robert 1 post
I’m way late. But, if inmates are involved in education programs, don’t infractions go down, violence goes down and everyone is safer? Look a the immediate results… as well as the long term.
|Kellie 14 posts
As a 20+ year Officer…..The onlyprogram I have seen that actually seems to work is the GED program. Our facility sends more inmates out the door with their GED’s than any place I can think of. This is outstanding and good use of tax payer money. We also have many other sociall programs that are aimed at changing behavior. These programs are marginal at best. They do manage to help very few inmates, however, it seems to be a feel good program for the civilians involved more than anything else. I support programs, however, i would appreciate honesty in reporting the fail rates. If I was a judge or a purse string holder I would question any program that had a consistent low rate of failure. We all know the population we deal with. My opinion is that …. they don’t want to change, they have numerous good examples to follow………I see the system swinging wildly to the left and demanding more and more programs that assist inmates with every issue except bed wetting and thumb sucking…….I am looking forward to the swing back to the center once again. There are literally millions of dollars being spent on programs that do nothing to change the inmate but make the program administrator feel good. GED that is the best bang for the buck….what they do with that once they are out is up to them. I do not like inmate hand holding. Give them the tools and let them go. I will say….a busy inmate is a well behaved inmate….the programs are worth their weight in gold on that level.
|Mudflap 293 posts
Welcome to the forums, mejamier. I agree with Mick. He always hits the nail on the head.
|Mick 307 posts
Hi mejamier. I can only speak from my experience. For your first question. The system that most democracies have is “Innocent until proven guilty”. And unfortunately this means that sometimes the blatantly guilty do walk free due a technicality of one type or another. And then there are juries. Which is like dealing with a lottery.
|mejamier 1 post
Hi, My name is Jamie. I going to school for criminal justice, I have never worked or even stepped foot in a prison. Why is it are courts let these same offenders out over and over when they know they have committed violent crimes? For those who work in the prisons or have worked there, Did you ever or are emotionally attached to inmates?
|BCDC903 4 posts
I’m a Corrections Counselor at a local detention center.
|Igoturback 16 posts
I’m a realistic person too and I see inmates come in and pick up the bible. and just to get out of their cells to do some programs but when they leave, they they drop off everything at the same door they came through. they get everything. all that money wasted and it could have gone to us officers but we still get nothing. most of the inmates do not learn anything so I tell them don’t come back but I’ll leave the light on do you want to reserve your same room now . TO the ones who are aways pro inmates,or thats not fair, cry,cry,cry all the time. I find they have nothing going for them in the real world. Get a life.
|jpearson 2 posts
|Well, Dave, guess you've never been in jail or prison. I've offered to those with comments like yours to give me control of your life for a weekend, not in a jail or prison, but at a fancy hotel at my cost. Never had a taker. But, there is a shred of truth in what you say--but in my experience it applies mainly to offenders who could better be handled in the community where they have to face reality, family responsibilities, etc. However, many are chronically disfunctional, so this is not doing nothing vs incarceration, it requires structured intervention and support.
|joycejail 1 post
|It takes the entire prison staff to make an offender program work, not just officers. If everyone works together for a common goal, then perhaps a program can be outlined and implemented. I feel that the medical staff is a very important part of the team, everyone needs to be saying the same, teaching the same, etc. You need to depend on eachother, talking and walking the same language.
|jjmason 1 post
|Successful programs, what is success? Is it no recidivism? Over what time period? Is it a reduction in severity and/or frequency of offending? Regardless of theory, intent, or resources devoted to the issue of rehabilitation there is no, repeat no program shown to reliabilibly reduce / eliminate recidivism once age is factored in the analysis. Age is the great rehabilitor not the good intentions of staff and offenders. Some programs have shown an initial effect but that soon wears off or is so small as to be a statistical artifact. There have been very few real evaluations of programs. It would be great to have access to a state system to do an independent evaluation but that exposes both sides to some risk and agencies are hesitant to partake.
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