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.
Doris Layton MacKenzie
This article studies the effectiveness of corrections-based work and academic and vocational education programs for offenders. It summarizes the present education, vocational, and work programs, as well as their goals and theoretical explanations for why they may affect recidivism, or a relapse into crime. It also reviews the research on the effectiveness of these programs. This article concludes with a theoretical proposal that states that effective programs are those that produce cognitive transformations.
Paul Gendreau and Ryan M. Labrecque
This essay considers debate over the extent to which some inmates should be isolated from others within prison, the impact of isolation on psychological well-being during confinement, and the implications for supermax prisons with 23-hour lockdown. The need for administrative segregation and solitary confinement is assessed in the context of improving the safety of individual inmates as well as preventing collective violence. These ideas are contrasted with the downside of isolation, including the possibility of compounding problems with existing mental illnesses, the development of “new” psychological problems during confinement, increased demands for psychological and psychiatric resources, and the problems posed for successful re-entry. However, contrary to some scholarly discourses, evidence to date suggests that administrative segregation does not produce dramatic negative psychological effects unless extreme conditions apply.
Cheryl Lero Jonson
Over the past forty years, the United States has relied on mass incarceration as a means to control crime. This reliance on imprisonment, known as the “penal harm movement,” has advocated incapacitation and other get-tough policies to punish offenders. This “get tough” era has made imprisonment one of the main crime control strategies utilized in the United States to incapacitate offenders and deter current and future offenders. Prisons exist for this purpose; they house both serious and minor offenders. This article assesses the impact of imprisonment on the reoffending of individuals sentenced to non-custodial sanctions as opposed to those given custodial sanctions, sentenced to shorter versus longer sentences, and placed in harsher compared to less harsh prison conditions.
Paula Smith, Lindsey M. Mueller, and Ryan M. Labrecque
Historically, work has played an important role in managing correctional populations and providing a means to reduce prisoner idleness. As correctional ideologies have shifted over time, the concept of working while incarcerated has taken on more of a rehabilitative approach. Several policies and correctional initiatives have been developed to integrate prison industry and employment services into correctional systems in an effort to address the poor employment histories and low job-related skills of offenders. Evaluations of these programs demonstrate that participation in prison industry and employment services can increase job prospects and lower the chances of recidivism. The effectiveness of prison-based employment programs vary, however, and is dependent upon the key components incorporated into their design. Despite the differences between programs, employment services offered in prison seem to be an effective approach to addressing employment deficits among offenders.
Paul Mazerolle, John Rynne, and Samara McPhedran
This essay explores cross-national contexts in the use of imprisonment as a penal policy. Incarceration figures from select countries are presented with accompanying discussions of methodological and measurement challenges. Possible reasons for differences in the use of imprisonment across countries (including social, political, and economic influences) are also provided. The role of public opinion is explored, including similarities and differences in cultural attitudes regarding incarceration and capital punishment. This discussion also focuses on broader cultural differences that might have greater impact on a nation’s use of incarceration compared to specific sentencing polices or crime control strategies. From a global perspective, certain striking examples act as a helpful focal point for broader debate about macro-level factors and conceptual frameworks influencing the use of imprisonment and that may facilitate comparisons between different nations. Illustrative examples are the privatization of prisons and the rise of super maximum security (“supermax”) facilities.
LaTosha Traylor and Beth Richie
This article focuses on the steadily increasing number of females being admitted in corrections. It emphasizes the need for gender-based programs inside and outside prisons, and observes that drug offenses seem to be the main reason for the increase of female inmates. Most of these women have experienced physical—and even sexual—abuse, which makes treatment even more challenging. This article identifies some new programs that can address the needs of female inmates, particularly mothers and their children.
The literature on inmate “harm” and inmate victimization within prison settings is reviewed with emphasis on the prevalence, predictors, and consequences associated with inmate misconduct, physical victimization, and sexual victimization in prison. The degree of overlap between “offenders” and “victims” is also discussed. The relevance of considering both inmate and facility characteristics for a more comprehensive understanding of both violent and property victimization is underscored. The potential impact of victimization on inmates’ feelings of safety is also covered. Strategies for preventing victimization and their limitations (e.g., protective custody, administrative segregation, disciplinary custody, prison transfers) are reviewed. A dyadic model of harm is developed that draws on routine activities theory and rational choice theory, to more clearly and systematically predict the effects of harm- and victim-propensity attributes of incarcerated people and correctional facilities on levels of harm.
Nancy Rodriguez and Jillian J. Turanovic
This essay describes the implications of confinement for offenders’ families (both children and spouses) and for their communities, including coercive mobility, weakened social controls, family disruption, and stigmatization. The pros and cons of removing criminal fathers are discussed, focusing on possible differences in the implications of removing criminal fathers versus criminal mothers. The dramatically higher incarceration rates of black men from the most disadvantaged urban neighborhoods relative to any other demographic subgroup is discussed in the context of possible implications for the social and economic environments of poor neighborhoods. An overview of the debate on whether these higher incarceration rates actually reduce crime is also offered, including possible implications for a deterrent effect on crime (or a lack thereof). The need for research on the collateral consequences of incarceration for Latino families and communities is highlighted, given that Latinos represent the fastest growing segment of the US correctional population.
The “success” of a prison program can be defined, in part, as the ability to effectively reintegrate released offenders back into the community and secure reductions in criminal recidivism. This essay considers the challenges and issues involved in transferring the “what works” literature on potentially successful prison programs from research into practice. Implementation guidelines for prison programs are considered as well as the importance of evaluating and accrediting prison-based treatment programs. To this end, I review the obstacles to translating theoretically sound programs into practice and whether these obstacles can be surmounted given the design and nature of imprisonment. Assuming effective programs can be established in a prison setting, proper monitoring and evaluation of these programs are discussed as linchpins of sustaining the success of these programs.
Mona Lynch and Anjuli Verma
This essay reviews trends since the early 1980s in the number of inmates confined in American prisons as well as possible factors contributing to the massive increase in prison admissions (ranging from highly functionalist structural accounts to more culturally embedded midrange ones). Defining features of the late twentieth century imprisonment boom are discussed, encompassing global notoriety; persistent racial disparities; the role of felony drug filings, convictions and sentences in fueling both the scale and racial disparities of imprisonment; and regional and jurisdictional variations in trends across three planes: federal-state, interstate, and intrastate. Finally, the recent “stabilization” of incarceration rates in the United States is described and possible implications considered.