Community corrective measures are in place with the aim of reducing chances of recidivism among offenders. Over time, studies have been done with the aim of determining the best ways of ensuring that offenders who have gone through corrective setups will not commit the same offense again once they have served the institutional time. Based on these studies and general observation of different interventions that have become concepts of community correction, general principles that are widely accepted in the area of corrective studies as well as in correction centers as useful guidelines have been developed (Latessa & Smith, 2015). Such principles of effective intervention have stimulated what is known as the ‘what works’ movement. The principles are four in number, namely the risk principle, the need principle, the responsivity principle, and the treatment principle among other considerations, which have become evidence-based correction concepts shaping the work of community corrective services.
The first or ‘who’ principle states that high-risk offenders should be targeted first and should go through the most intensive kinds of corrective measures possible. This principle determines who will become the target of community correction. It also underscores efforts that should be put on specific levels of risk that offenders pose (Latessa & Smith, 2015). High-risk offenders who are considered to be more likely to relapse into horrible activities face more deliberate and focused corrective measures. It means that the personnel in charge of correcting such persons should make efforts to ensure that such persons are the most engaged in corrective measures. The consideration here reflects that targeting individuals who do not need a particular program would be a waste of resources. In this sense, since low-risk offenders are less prone to recidivism, they do not need intensive corrective measures. Furthermore, putting low-risk criminals together with high-risk ones can lead to the former not being corrected adequately since more attention is likely to be paid to the latter. For example, administering the same correction process to a manslaughter offender and a theft convict may bring disadvantages to one of the two and prove ineffective for the correction center. Hence, for both types of offenders to get the most from corrective interventions, the risk principle is to be put into practice. Furthermore, an observation of many cells with high-risk offenders in community-based correctional facilities or prisons proves that the rate of recidivism is reduced greatly if they are correctly handled (Latessa & Smith, 2015). Hence, if well applied, the risk principle is an effective way and a concept that can work for community correctional facilities.
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The second principle is the need one. It focuses on needs that produce a criminal tendency, namely peer pressure, drug abuse, as well as poor decision-making and self-discipline among other factors that are likely to spark criminal behavior. Such focus helps to determine the kind of programs that an inmate or an offender may need. The principle is applied to both high- risk and low-risk offenders (Latessa & Smith, 2015). However, it does not focus on factors that are typical of individual’s personality and considers gained behaviors to assess programs that may be needed. Hence, the need principle can be said to estimate the area of weaknesses of the offender and the cause for this person to engage in crime. Programs applied based on this principle are meant to correct these issues. When non-criminogenic factors, such as self-esteem, need consideration, studies have shown that their effectiveness in reducing recidivism is low. Such examples as Project Greenlight that demonstrated success were found to have a high recidivism rate as compared to those that targeted criminogenic factors (Latessa & Smith, 2015). Therefore, addressing the needs of offenders is one of the most effective ways of ensuring success of offender correction. Those strategies that target non-criminal inducing factors of a person are less likely to produce reduced recidivism.
The responsivity principle dictates that there is a need for programs that offenders undergo to consider their abilities, needs, culture as well as their capacity to take part in the intervention program. It is important to be considerate of offender’s capabilities and individual needs (Saxena, Messina, & Grella, 2014). It is not reasonable to put an offender who has special needs under a program with intensive efforts and requirements that he or she cannot meet. Such programs can become ineffective. Using the responsivity principle, the program should consider to what kind of corrective measures offenders are sensitive, nature of their upbringing and the culture they have lived in (Saxena, Messina, & Grella, 2014). In addition, it allows offenders with specials needs not to be discriminated lest they consider themselves not essential. The application of this principle ensures that the attitude of offenders towards correctional intervention is positive. Furthermore, considerate and active programs, participatory in nature, help to increase the effectiveness of corrective measures. For example, when offenders participate in programs actively, it can contribute to developing proactive behaviors. It is a definite indication of an effective corrective intervention program (Saxena, Messina, & Grella, 2014).
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Finally, the treatment principle is the one that indicates that the most effective way of intervention is the behavioral kind of correction. It answers the question how offenders need to be corrected (Cochran, Mears, Bales, & Stewart, 2014). The behavioral treatment method focuses on the present high-risk causes of criminal activity observed in an individual. Hence, it relates to correcting the criminogenic behavior identified with the help of the second principle. The advantage of using behavioral corrective measures is that they consider current causes of offender’s behavior, helping to introduce programs to the offender based on actions rather than talks. It allows the one to act and avoids talk-oriented interventions as much as possible. The effect of the character weakness approach is used in such a way that offenders can correct their character issues themselves analyzing causes of one’s personal weaknesses. Furthermore, the principle teaches the criminal new skills and behavior patterns that he or she has previously lacked. Therefore, it also helps in dealing with non-criminogenic factors affecting the offender. For example, the latter can be taught to develop a habit of being self-disciplined and self-controlled through a repeated act that he or she is encouraged to embrace (Cochran et al., 2014). It proves that the treatment principle is valid.
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In conclusion, the four principles of effective intervention in the community correction of offenders are applied alongside other subprinciples, such as the dosage one, which indicates the length of time, for which the program runs. The above principles have been developed as concepts that can be widely applied to general community correction (Saxena, Messina, & Grella, 2014). They have become the basis of the ‘what works’ movement because of a low degree of recidivism among criminals. Their effectiveness however depends on how well they can be tailored to meet different needs and individual characteristics of offenders at certain times. It is worthwhile considering that since diversity among inmates is so high, what is applied to one patient may not cause completely the same effect on the other (Saxena, Messina, & Grella, 2014). In addition, differences in correctional facilities demands need the responsive application of the principles, which may change from time to time.
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