Notwithstanding diminishing crime rates in many countries, high rates of incarceration continue to engage political and public scrutiny in the management of (increasing) correctional populations. It appears such interest is driven by the competing concerns of fiscal pressures and ideological shifts: essentially lack of funds and, in many jurisdictions, a lean towards more conservative doctrines regarding offender care. Perhaps not completely surprisingly, these two themes can also actually work in harmony. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the United States, where spiralling costs of corrections appear to have seduced politicians to consider less punitive models which, ironically, are more effective at reducing crime and costs. At present, various states have embraced what has often been referred to as the Canadian model, that is, a less punitive and more empirically-grounded rehabilitative approach to addressing crime. Indeed, the number of U.S. citizens involved in the criminal justice system is staggering (7.3 million adults), with approximately 700,000 individuals returning home each year to their communities from prison. Encouragingly, recent legislation and funding such as the Second Chance Act have put a spotlight on offender re-entry. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine how well the field is positioned to meet proffered expectations for re-entry regarding risk reduction and public safety and to debate whether existing conceptualizations of offender change can adequately inform offender re-entry initiatives.
Keywords: Crime desistance, Offender change, Offender re-entry
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