Recidivism Programs in the United States

Today, many organizations are working to lower recidivism rates in the United States. They work with former prisoners to reintegrate them into society, providing them with support so they can get jobs and learn different social skills. For instance, the Exodus Transitional Community in New York City helps former detainees to reintegrate smoothly into society, so they can have better lives outside the prison environment (Travis and Visher, 2005, p. 12). The Exodus Transitional Community has been working since the 1990s to reduce recidivism among prisoners in New York.

The group has programs that emphasize inmates' focus on change, responsibility for their past behaviors, and self-discovery. According to the group, factors that increase recidivism include: emotional trauma, joblessness, and difficulties with social reintegration. Many of the professionals working for Exodus were themselves incarcerated before, making them suitable to provide counseling to newly released prisoners. Many prisons under the US government also have their own programs to reduce and eliminate recidivism among their inmates.

For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) has a thoroughly outlined recidivism program for their inmates. First, they assess their inmates’ risk of recidivism through various assessment tools. The Level of Service Inventory-Revised or LSI-R estimates inmates’ risk of recidivism and is widely used across the country. PADOC uses another assessment tool called the Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified or CSS-M to gather information on inmates’ values, beliefs, and criminal attitudes. The CSS-M is a good measure of criminal thinking and is widely used in the US and Canada.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or CDCR has various programs directed at reducing recidivism among their inmates. They measure the effectiveness of these recidivism programs using the California Program Assessment Process or CPAP. Some of the recidivism programs that they have are the Foundations Program (FFP), Incarcerated Youthful Offender Program (IYO), and the Transitional Case Management Program-Mental Health Services Continuum (TCMP-MHSCP). According to recent findings by the CPAP, eleven of the 26 programs that were assessed showed signs of effective intervention.

Six of the programs, however, received less than half of the points that indicate effective information, which means there's still room for improvement in the CDCR's recidivism programs (Travis and Visher, 2005, p. 12). Some US prisons make it a point to work with different organizations to assess the effectiveness of their recidivism programs. In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections or DOC worked with the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center to examine some of the factors that supposedly contribute to the recidivism of inmates.

They conducted the study through various methods, including an analysis of existing data on recidivism, focus group discussion with parole officers, and interviews of inmates who return to prison. The study though revealed little of the effectiveness of the transition workshop attended by some of the inmates since the participants disproportionately came from prisons with high security levels. These participants had higher recidivism rates most likely because their types of offenses are the same (Travis and Visher, 2005, p. 12).