James Bonta Ph.D. and J.S. Wormith Ph.D.
This chapter describes the developments that have occurred over the past three decades in the area of offender assessment and classification, including discussion of why offender classification is so vital to correctional agencies. The importance of using actuarial approaches to predicting the risk of reoffending and danger to others is discussed, as well as the inclusion of static and dynamic factors on composite measures of offender risk and need. Particular attention is paid to the application of the principles of Risk, Need, and Responsivity (RNR) to offender assessment, classification, and subsequent work with the offender, often described as “offender case management.” How prison environments (including inmate and officer subcultures) can potentially interfere with the accuracy of risk and needs assessments is also debated.
Karol Lucken and Thomas G. Blomberg
This article outlines the corrections system of America. It traces the history of the corrections system and offers some observations on what led to the massive prison buildup. It considers the possibility that the core of the problem is the inconsistencies in practice and ideology, which helped create a system that is not only contradictory and volatile, but indecisive and regressive. This article concludes that a well-balanced justice system can be attained by better using criminological and scientific knowledge.
Keramet Reiter and Natalie Pifer
In 2011 the US Supreme Court declared healthcare in California’s prison system constitutionally inadequate under the Eighth Amendment and upheld an order to reduce the prison population by almost one- third. This article examines the initiation and trajectory of theBrown v. Platalitigation, California’s effort to “realign” state prisoners into county facilities, and recent legal challenges to conditions in jails.Platamust be understood not just as a symbolic critique of mass incarceration, but as an example of (a) the persistent power of administrative discretion and political resistance to reform and (b) the challenges of devolving punitive power to increasingly local decision-makers. Rather than reducing California’s reliance on mass incarceration,Platamay have simply initiated fragmentation of mass incarceration into local jails, which are both less visible and more resistant to federal judicial control than state prison systems.
Christy A. Visher and Jeremy Travis
This article reports that rehabilitation for prisoners is still not dead. It reveals that prisoner reentry programs have been implemented nationwide for the past ten years, and that current knowledge on prisoner reentry is strong enough to determine the principles of effective programs. This article also suggests that future research in this field should focus on interdisciplinary and longitudinal studies of prisoner reintegration that uses multiple outcome measures, in order to be able to understand the complete effects of current social policies.
Alec Ewald and Christopher Uggen
This article studies “invisible punishment” or the “collateral” consequences that follow convictions. It notes that these collateral consequences are sometimes caused by charges or arrests that do not result in conviction. It first studies the relevant legal consequences of being involved with the criminal justice system. It then tests the impact of incarceration and criminal-justice contact on the convicted person. The next section describes the research on how certain communities—and even democracy itself—are influenced by mass incarceration. This article ends with a study of a number of promising reform proposals on invisible punishment.
A Comparison of British and American Policies for Managing Dangerous Prisoners: A Question of Legitimacy
Roy D. King
This essay traces the development of policies regarding difficult and dangerous prisoners in Britain and the United States from the 1960s to the present day. In essence policies about dangerous prisoners in the Unites States have been driven primarily by concerns about bad behaviors inside prisons control problems whereas in Britain the driving force has been fears about escapes security risks. Although control problems and security risks can and do sometimes overlap, it is argued that the two issues can be analyzed separately and have different solutions. Failure to distinguish clearly between security and control issues has bedeviled policies in both countries, sometimes seriously undermining the legitimacy of the system concerned, and led to misunderstandings on both sides of the Atlantic. The essay is organized in three chronological periods in the hope that moving the discussion between the two countries will better bring out the similarities and differences.
This article provides an overview of the literature leading comparative penological research. Starting from the concept of “punitiveness” as measured in imprisonment rates, it explores and critically assesses how differences in prison populations, and changes over time, have been explained by comparative criminologists. In doing so, it identifies drivers of contemporary penal policies on a global, national, and regional scale. It does, however, also pay particular attention to anomalies, deviating patterns, and overrepresented groups and discusses the validity of the explanatory models in this respect. Finally, it looks at the future of penal policy and prospects for penal reform.
William H. Barton
The term detention refers to that part of the juvenile justice system that handles youths between the time of their arrest and court hearings. Detention centers are secure facilities intended to hold youths deemed too risky to release during that time period. This article attempts to provide an overview of juvenile detention in the United States. It also addresses a range of questions and issues concerning the use of juvenile detention, discussing the purpose and intention of detention and arguing if it really matches its intended purpose. It also gives information on the number of young people placed in juvenile detention, and the reasons and procedures of them landing there. Furthermore, it describes the consequences of juvenile detention policies and practices for society and for the children who are affected by them. Finally, it poses a question, asking if there is a better way to structure juvenile detention.
Michael Wheatley, John R. Weekes, Andrea E. Moser, and Kathleen Thibault
This essay explores how illegal drugs are linked to imprisonment, especially in the United States. First, the chapter considers statistics that demonstrate how the high U.S. imprisonment rate is driven by the criminalization of substance misuse, despite the high incidence of drug use in the general population. Prison populations that include a mixture of drug users and drug dealers are virtually guaranteed to find ways of bringing drugs into prison, and the demand is increased by the desire to ease the pains of imprisonment. The illicit drug economy in prisons and the associated violence is a threat to the safety of both staff and prisoners. Discussed are ways drugs enter correctional institutions and the methods used to disrupt supply routes. Types of treatment to reduce demand are considered. The complex mix of issues affecting drug use in prisons means that a careful, balanced approach to care and control is needed.
Sarah Tahamont and Aaron Chalfin
This chapter presents empirical evidence regarding the (in)effectiveness of prisons for reducing crime. The authors begin with a brief discussion of the mechanisms through which incarceration affects crime, followed by a review of research that presents empirical evidence on the relationship between prisons and crime. This section separates empirical research on the total effect of prison on crime from empirical studies intended to isolate the deterrent or incapacitation effects of prison. Death penalty studies are also reviewed for insight into whether capital punishment has any short- or long-term effects on homicide rates. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the policy implications that follow from the empirical research on prison effects on crime.