Reentry and Rehabilitation

Reentry and Rehabilitation

2/6/2019 Print 1/2


Reentry and Rehabilitation

Generating Successful Outcomes During Challenging Times Faith E. Lutze and Roger L. Schaefer

eentry to the community from prison is a process that poses many challenges both to the ex- offender experiencing the transition and the professionals tasked with managing the process. For

the ex-offender it means reengaging with family, friends, work, and treatment while navigating the pitfalls of encountering criminal peers, living in high-risk neighborhoods, and managing impulsive behaviors. For the community corrections of�icer it means working with the offender to monitor compliance with court- ordered conditions; guiding ex-offenders through legal, economic, emotional, and social challenges; and managing the multiple criminal justice, social services, and public health partnerships necessary to effectively transition ex-offenders into the community. Therefore, community corrections is one of the most important components of the criminal justice system because it has the power to intervene on multiple levels over time to in�luence positive outcomes for the individual, the community, and the system. Although community corrections is extremely important to the overall success of the criminal justice system, it has not generally garnered the respect that it deserves.

Since the demise of the rehabilitative ideal beginning in the 1970s, community corrections was often criticized for being “soft on crime” and ineffective in keeping the community safe from dangerous offenders released from prison. In recent decades, community corrections experienced somewhat of an identity crisis: trying to adhere to its rehabilitative origins (designed to engage the ex-offender in the reentry process), while attempting to achieve contemporary legitimacy within a crime control era focused

2/6/2019 Print 2/2

on strict monitoring, rule enforcement, and sanctioning noncompliance. This has caused an ideological debate within the profession about whether community corrections should provide rehabilitation or punishment, support or accountability, guidance or coercion, social work or law enforcement. Ironically, this con�lict often leaves community corrections vulnerable to being ineffective at both meeting the individual needs of the ex-offender and the safety needs of the community.

In this chapter, we argue that it is time for community corrections to move beyond oversimplistic ideologically de�ined approaches to supervision, and resolve the rehabilitation or punishment debate by implementing balanced, evidence-based interventions designed to reduce recidivism and improve long- term reintegration. First, we place community corrections and prisoner reentry into a political, economic, and social context as it relates to contemporary circumstances that pose serious challenges to community corrections and successful reentry. Second, we present what is known about effective strategies to reduce recidivism and achieve reintegration at both the individual level of intervention and at the agency level of operation. Finally, we recommend strategies that can be implemented by policy makers as they take responsibility for supporting and intelligently guiding the future of community corrections.

As a brief review of the current political, economic, and social context of community corrections shows, there are serious challenges confronting community corrections due to an ongoing political emphasis on narrowly de�ined punitive policies, the contemporary �iscal crises, and the existence of distressed communities attempting to absorb ex-offenders. It is within this reality that community corrections exists and must be managed to achieve success.

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