September 17, 2011

Consultant gives ideas on what works and what doesn't with criminals

9-17-2011 Oklahoma:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Intensive treatment programs should be reserved for higher-risk offenders, a correctional working group was told Wednesday.

Ed Latessa, professor and director of the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati, spoke Wednesday to members of a panel trying to find ways to more effectively use criminal justice dollars as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, is leading the initiative after successful passage last session of legislation designed to give the state more flexibility for offenders that could be better served in the community.

Latessa, considered a national expert on criminal justice reform, discussed ways to reduce recidivism.

"Without some form of human intervention or services there is unlikely to be much effect on recidivism from punishment alone," Latessa said of conclusions from researchers who study correctional interventions.

High-risk offenders need at least 200 hours of intensive treatment, he said.

Intensive treatment programs for low-risk offenders will often increase failure rates because low-risk offenders learn anti-social behavior from higher risk offenders, he said.

He highlighted an array of programs that he said were not effective in reducing recidivism, such as a dance program for juveniles and running and gardening programs for adult inmates.

"Not everything we do in the name of treatment is effective," Latessa said.

Programs that don't target behavior, such as talk therapy, are not as effective as programs designed to alter behavior, such as teaching offenders new ways to behave, Latessa said.

Oklahoma does target high risk offenders, said Justin Jones, Department of Corrections director.

"We don't have enough slots for high risk offenders before they discharge," Jones said.

The state is working with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to analyze data and come up with recommendations for lawmakers to consider, said John Estus, a Steele spokesman.

The data analysis is expected to be done in October and will be presented in public meetings in Lawton, Enid and Muskogee, Estus said.

"It is going to be, we hope, the most comprehensive snapshot of criminal justice in Oklahoma the state has ever seen," Estus said.

The recommendations are expected to be developed and released in December, Estus said.

The recommendations are expected to address sentencing reform, Estus said. ..Source.. by Barbara Hoberock

No comments: