By Pyerse Dandridge
Author: Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp
The effort towards intervention to prevent recidivism tends to focus on those at higher risk. For example, those who have graduated high school, those with friends who avoid trouble, and those who work hard to gain legitimate employment are at a lower risk of recidivating. In contrast, those who have minimum education, those with bad tempers or impulsiveness, those who do not seek gainful employment, and those who, in general, fail to change their choices post-release; are at higher risk for recidivism.
Intervention is focused on current behavior and principle; rather than the past. For example, it may be beneficial to counsel a former criminal in regards to past tendencies towards anti-social behavior, anger issues, or grief. However, the best way to target intervention for these situations is considered to be helping the individual by talking through current emotions and behaviors; rather than focus on the past.
Other intervention tactics include taking action towards change rather than taking the counseling route. For instance, action-based interventions include learning social skills to replace anti-social ones such as anger, aggression, and distrust. Other learning programs target new attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and including family members in making these new changes. Some other programs include drug and alcohol education, lectures, self-help, reading, and other self-improvement techniques to increase self-worth and self-efficacy.
High-risk determinates make sense in terms of who to target for achieving recidivism prevention. However, former inmates who are considered low-risk are left with little influence towards maintaining a positive future. These intervention tactics focus solely on the idea that those who are “more likely” to recidivate are the higher concern. This may be true, however, with the high probability of recidivism amongst men after their release, one would think that there would be more outlets targeted to all those at risk, rather than just those “more likely” to be at risk. Intervention could be more successful in terms of prevention if men were seen in terms of individual characteristics; rather than in groups based on blanket expectations or assumptions.
Intervention should be a staple in the lives of those reentering society after serving a sentence. Predictions on the likelihood of recidivism based on different counts of study can definitely show positive results. However, should intervention only focus on those in immediate need? In other words, for those seemingly at low risk to recidivate, should intervention wait until it’s too late and past the opportune time to intervene, or should all men have the same opportunity to receive help to provide a better future for themselves?