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What Works in Corrections: Reducing the Criminal Activities of Offenders and Delinquents (Cambridge Studies in Criminology) [Paperback]

by Doris Layton MacKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 17, 2006 052100120X 978-0521001205
What Works in Corrections, first published in 2006, examines the impact of correctional interventions, management policies, treatment and rehabilitation programs on the recidivism of offenders and delinquents. The book reviews different strategies for reducing recidivism and describes how the evidence for effectiveness is assessed. Thousands of studies were examined in order to identify those of sufficient scientific rigor to enable conclusions to be drawn about the impact of various interventions, policies and programs on recidivism. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses were performed to further examine these results. This book assesses the relative effectiveness of rehabilitation programs (e.g., education, life skills, employment, cognitive behavioral), treatment for different types of offenders (e.g. sex offenders, batterers, juveniles), management and treatment of drug-involved offenders (e.g., drug courts, therapeutic communities, outpatient drug treatment) and punishment, control and surveillance interventions (boot camps, intensive supervision, electronic monitoring). Through her extensive research, MacKenzie illustrates which of these programs are most effective and why.

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Editorial Reviews


"In an area that often embraces ideology and custom, Doris MacKenzie shows the wisdom of an evidence-based corrections. Through a definitive yet accessible analysis of the lengthy roster of existing offender interventions, she teaches us what programs do and do not hold promise for reducing criminal activity. Indeed, if the sage advice between its covers is followed, this volume offers the important opportunity to avoid harmful treatments and to develop interventions that enhance both the lives of offenders and the public's safety. Simply put, What Works in Corrections is a must read for any serious student of the correctional enterprise." -Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

"Anyone seeking to understand what works in contemporary corrections policy will welcome this scholarly, wide-ranging book and its evidenced-based perspective. I highly recommend it to policymakers, practitioners and academics. The data presented should help us target our scarce resources to those programs most likely to succeed." -Joan Petersilia, Stanford Law School

Book Description

This 2006 book assesses the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs, specialized treatment for different types of offenders, management and treatment of drug-involved offenders and punishment, control and surveillance interventions to provide an intensive review of correctional interventions and programs. Through extensive research, MacKenzie illustrates which of these programs are most effective and why.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052100120X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521001205
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Prison Employee November 2, 2007
This is an excellent tool for prison treatment staff directors. It really does tell you what works and what doesn't work. It is a 'how to,' 'what to' on reducing recidivism. In general, the author states that the best in-prison programs can reduce recidivism by about 15-20%. In-prison programs that claim to reduce recidivism by more than 15-20% have *probably* not been measured in a manner that can lend consumers confidence in that the program was the sole variable in the reduction in recidivism.

Readers need to keep in mind that there is a level of failure associated with programs that work - some inmates who go through a program will reoffend; this is not unusual, but no need for alarm. Many offenders just don't reoffend, while many do. So if the average recidivism rate for a random jurisdiction is 50%, and a program reduces recidivism by 20%, as compared to an equal control group, the treatment group's recidivism rate will be 40% (20% off the base rate of 50% is 40%). This is a success. We have hundreds of thousands of inmates and if 50% of the inmates are not going to return anyway, and the numbers can be reduced, that is a lot less crime and improved public safety and lot less money spent on incarceration. In the case of a parole violator, it is not less crime, since technical parole violations are not usually associated with crime, but it is still less money spent on incarceration.

The author shows us that there are some programs that don't work (and some that actually increase crime like 'scared straight'). This means that the program did not produce the anticipated results. Clearly, these programs should not be implemented since it is a waste of resources and a false sense of rehabilitative security. But for programs that do work, they should be implemented to their fullest and measured so as to vindicate the money spent by the tax payers, or modified (or dropped) if they don't produce the anticipated results.
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