Ex-Offenders Program Term Paper

Pages: 25 (6267 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Reform and Rehabilitation Program to Support Nonviolent Ex-Offenders

Ex-Offenders Problems

Programs in Other Countries

Opinions on Programs to Aid Ex-Offenders

Benefits of Rehabilitation

Programs That Work

Social Support For Ex-Offenders

This study focuses on the potential benefits of a rehabilitation and support program for non-violent ex-offenders in the community. The intent of the research is to gain insight regarding the critical elements necessary for a rehabilitation program to succeed and help reduce rates of recidivism in the community. After conducting an extensive preliminary literature review the researcher is able to identify multiple critical success factors for a successful ex-offender support program. In addition to the literature review the researcher proposes further investigation and field research that will examine inmates views and opinions regarding the potential benefits of a rehabilitation program for nonviolent ex-offenders.

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The preliminary results available based on examination of successful community rehabilitation programs suggests that multiple factors contribute to a successful rehabilitation and reform program. Key features identified thus far include length of program, employment-based training and support, substance abuse support and social skills building and support. The researcher intends to incorporate each of these variables into a successful program and then survey inmates, law enforcement agencies and community members to identify what features each would like to see in a successful program in the community.

Introduction

Term Paper on Ex-Offenders Program Assignment

The purpose of this research proposal is to evaluate the critical success factors necessary for developing a rehabilitation program for nonviolent ex-offenders that will enable community members and law enforcement officials to collaborate and form supportive social networks for inmates released from prison. The researcher feels an ex-offenders program will benefit not only former incarcerates but also the community at large in many positive ways. Most nonviolent criminals face among other barriers social stigma upon being released into the community (Etters, 2002). Thus it is important community members collaborate to improve the success rates of a program directed toward ex-offenders.

Unfortunately many nonviolent offenders simply lack the social support networks, skills and training to make good decisions and build strong lives and support their communities upon release. Restorative justice, that is justice that aims to reform offenders, is more likely to result in a positive outcome for these individuals than simple prison terms or warehousing (Mayers, Unwin & Wilt, 1999). The researcher believes these individuals deserve an opportunity to contribute to their community in the same way that non-offenders do. On the same token ex-offenders may also enrich the community as rates of recidivism decline due to an exceptional rehabilitation program.

History has shown that warehousing or punishing offenders doesn't actually help reduce rates of crime or reduce recidivism in the community (Mayers, Unwin & Wilt, 1999). In fact incarceration of individuals for nonviolent crimes without rehabilitation typically results in higher rates of repeat offenses (Western, 2003). Multiple studies however support the use of rehabilitation as an effective tool to decrease crime and the rates of recidivism in the community. Programs that succeed often take on multiple characteristics, including improving ex-offenders employability and providing social support to help offenders adapt to life outside of prison.

Though many countries around the globe have successfully adopted rehabilitation programs for ex-offenders, this concept has not yet caught on with much enthusiasm in the United States. This despite alarming numbers of new inmates incarcerated every year for nonviolent crimes. At this point in time the current prison system within the United States is straining under the load of offenders incarcerated every year. Despite this law enforcement agents cite tight budgets and other irrelevant factors as excuses not to adopt such programs within the community.

There is however a growing body of evidence suggesting that rehabilitation programs are not simply a luxury, but rather a necessity to help reform and support our communities. Previous studies of such programs suggest that ex-offenders incarcerated for misdemeanors or other non-violent crimes are much more willing and capable of becoming supportive and contributing members of society if offered the opportunity to take part in meaningful programs that help guide and direct them (Petersilia, 2005; Mayers, Unwin & Wilt, 1999; Latimore & Witte, 1985). Law enforcement agencies and communities will be hard pressed in the future to deny the benefits of such programs.

The researcher proposes that enabling a rehabilitation program in this community will benefit community members and ex-offenders alike. Without such programs the community is less likely to benefit from potentially hard working, tax paying and dedicated members of society. Most ex-offenders commit crimes because they lack the tools and support networks necessary from the start to avoid offenses to begin with (Petersilia, 2005).

Many offenders come from a variety of backgrounds that may include violence, lack of employment or education, substance abuse and lack of parental or familial support figures (Petersilia, 2005). All of these factors combined may lead to or contribute to delinquency, and may certainly drive ex-offenders to repeat offenses if not given the tools they need to succeed and become contributing members of society. Thus it is important that support networks work with ex-offenders to address their problems in multiple ways.

Communities stand to benefit little if released offenders repeat crimes. However, if criminals can be reformed and become active and participating members of the community, everyone gains. The researcher proposes development of a program that utilizes critical success factors to ensure that ex-offenders that are willing and able have the opportunity to become productive members of society.

Problem and Objectives

Currently there are no programs within the community targeted toward reforming, supporting or rehabilitating nonviolent ex-offenders. Despite this increasingly high numbers of inmates are released into the community every year. In fact, every year the nation faces increasingly challenges managing and re-integrating vast numbers of ex-offenders into local communities (Petersilia, 2005). Rehabilitation programs that enable ex-offenders to respond well to the challenges they face upon re-entering society are more likely to enable ex-offenders to contribute to society at large.

On the other hand studies suggest that inmates released into the community with few social support mechanisms or rehabilitation programs are much more likely to engage in repeat criminal activity due to multiple reasons, including lack of employment, low self-esteem, poor peer influence, financial reasons, substance abuse and lack of skills training (Etters, 2002; Petersilia, 2005; Western, 2000). For ex-offenders to become contributing members of society it is vital that society take an active interest in their reform, particularly given the high number of citizens incarcerated for nonviolent crimes every year.

Thus this researcher sill attempt to examine the following research questions: (1) what type of rehabilitation, employment or social support program is most well suited within this community and (2) what key features must the ex-offender program feature to enable ex-offenders to succeed in the community. Other questions the researcher will explore include will examine what characteristics inmates must have to succeed in a rehabilitation program, whether an ex-offender program will reduce inmate recidivism and how long clients must stay in a program to realize long-term success in the community.

For purposes of this study the researcher will assume that a community-based ex-offender program that supports inmates from a social, skills based, employment training and substance abuse framework will most likely result in reduced recidivism and positive outcomes than a prison-based program that emphasizes only one aspect of rehabilitation or support.

Background Of The Problem

Incarceration rates across the nation continue to rise. Studies suggest that as many as one of every 142 U.S. residents are incarcerated in any given year (Etters, 2002). Despite incarceration more than 95% of all inmates are released at some point in the future (Etters, 2002; Petersilia, 2005). Released ex-offenders who are gainfully employed or receiving employment training and social support are much less likely to recidivate when compared to those without access to rehabilitative services (Etters, 2002). Despite this known fact the rate of recidivism among ex-offenders is nearly 80% in some cases (Etters, 2002).

Current studies including those conducted through 2000 and beyond suggest tat more than 10% of black American men are in prison at any given time (Western, 2000). Of these many had little education; in fact more than 60% of dropouts in their mid 30s had some sort of prison record, usually for minor crimes (Western, 2000). Of those incarcerated, studies suggest black males are up to eight times as likely to be incarcerated than white men (Western, 2000).

These inmates have much chance for recidivism after release, in part because studies support wage reductions for ex-offenders by as much as 15% upon release (Western, 2000). This is due in part to lack of job prospects; many are able to locate temporary jobs with few opportunities for growth; others are lured into criminal activities to earn better cash; still others have difficulty adjusting to life "on the outside," and other inmates have reported they have little of the "self-reliance needed for the daily demands of getting to work and following the directions of supervisors" which for many are akin to the "rigid… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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