Politics Trumps Policy
How would you respond? Would you just capitulate and end some or all of these programs?
Explain your answer.
A written response would be provided to the new governor that would include an outline of all current programs supplemented with reasoning and statistical effectiveness of each. A break even analysis for each program will also be provided where the actual program outcome statistics with the inclusion of the 30% reduction in recidivism over two years and the cost savings of such a rate reduction in both the short- and long-term to the state and the community. The programs themselves were thoroughly researched and required significant defense for development and implementation, some of the material used to allow support for implementation will clearly need to be used to demonstrate to the new governor the importance and potential of these programs. To respond to the concerns associated with the tough on crime, “take back the streets” campaign the governor should be made aware that these programs hold inmates to high standards and demonstrate significant reductions in internal strife and external community reorientation saving the taxpayers untold dollars and reducing the numbers of victims of crime (Carter, 2008, p. 108) (Azzolino, Johnson, Thornton, & Turley, 2004, pp. 721-728) (Jenson & Reed, 2006, p. 81-89). The governor must be made aware in no uncertain terms that the only way to allow offenders to reenter society safely is to provide them with services and programs that allow them to break cycles of criminality, which are wholly supported by allowing these offenders to reenter society without a plan to support themselves, the education and vocational training to do so and additionally without treatment for drug and alcohol dependence (Carter, 2008, p. 108) (Azzolino, Johnson, Thornton, & Turley, 2004, pp. 721-728) (Jenson & Reed, 2006, p. 81-89). Offenders who serve time and then are simply returned to society with no resources return to the patterns of criminality that made them offenders to begin with, and many do this simply because they see no other way to survive in the community. Lastly, the governor should also be made aware that the reduction of internal strife within the prison system that has resulted in part from these programs has also reduced staff turnover significantly and has allowed the system to become much more stable over the past 2 years. This reduction in staff turnover also supports higher levels of security, as training new staff is always a point of security concern and doing so on a continual basis often leaves returning staff and new staff severely taxed and in a position to either omit important security training procedures from training or demonstrate limited concern for such training as a result of employee burnout and high levels of dissatisfaction, not to mention the extremely high financial cost of high employee turnover (Rion, 2009, p. 8) (Shaffer, 2003, p.114). I would not dismantle programs initially but would allow the new governor the opportunity to have a greater understanding of the programs and their effects before taking action.
2. Is there any room to negotiate with the governor? As a trade-off, would you offer to put in place some programs that are known to be tough on inmates? If so, what kind?
The initial written response to the governor should serve as the basis for negotiations, as each of the points made by the written response should demonstrate a point and counterpoint for the governor to consider the reasoning and statistical reality of these programs, effectiveness. Tougher programs would be considered if they were shown to be effective in say reducing internal criminality in the prisons, for particularly high risk offenders who have shown a tendency to be a party to internal crime and/or violence. Security standards, incident reports before and after the implementation of these programs, as well as the understanding that all of these programs are incentive based, meaning that offenders are denied participation if they are actively involved in internal violations of the rules and regulations of the prison itself.
3. Before dismantling your policies and programs, would you attempt to see how much internal and external support you have for them? If yes, whom would you contact and how?
A community impact statement would be sought from those inside the system, i.e. those who have been a part of implementation of programs both inside and outside the prisons. Program administrators as well as community placement sites would be interviewed for this purpose as would any offenders who had successfully utilized the programs to return to society. Staff who have been present to witness the before and after of these programs should be interviewed to allow them voice as to the impact of the programs on offender behavior and other factors they might find important in support of these programs. Lastly, I would seek the support of expert politicians who were integral in program development and implementation.
4. How might you go about demonstrating how successful your policies have been?
Statistical analysis as well as expert research and documentation would be used, which would include that which was reviewed and conducted to allow the implementation of the programs to begin with. The enduring argument between prison as punishment and prison as rehabilitation should be only marginally addressed by reviewing systems that work and do not work through current and timely literature from across the nation. There is no question that some of the programs may still require review and the implementation of reductions in services, to meet the demands of the governor but it is hoped that through this thorough debate the issues would be resolved without massive loss in program implementation.
Azzolino, S., Johnson, C., Thornton, T., & Turley, A. (2004, December). Jail drug and alcohol treatment program reduces recidivism in nonviolent offenders: A longitudinal study of Monroe County, New York’s, jail treatment drug and alcohol program. International Journal of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 48(6), 721-728.
Carter, F.C. (2008). Offender employment is the key. Corrections Today, 70(4), 108.
Jensen, E.L., & Reed, G.E. (2006). Adult correctional education programs: an update on current status based on recent studies. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 44(1), 81-89.
Rion, J. (2009)Professional development: the key to retention. Corrections Today 71 (2), 8-12.
Shaffer, J.S. (2003) Vulnerability analysis in the correctional environment. Corrections Today 65 (7), 114-120.
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