Reducing Recidivism and Improving Clinical Outcomes

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Sociology ・APA ・10 Sources

The policies employed by the US justice system have resulted in the world's highest rate of incarceration and recidivism. In fact, the majority of prisoners in federal prisons have past criminal records and have done jail time. To manage crime in the country, the system employs incarceration. However, this strategy is no longer effective (Dennison, 2013). With the high prevalence of recidivism, the United States has devised measures to reverse this tendency. The article focuses on analyzing the programs utilized by the United States to minimize recidivism, as well as the mechanisms put in place to ensure the programs' effectiveness. These programs are also used to reduce crime since studies show that a reduction in the rate of recidivism also leads to a reduction in crime in the US (Dennison, 2013).


The literature report is based on comprehensive review of literature on what works in reducing recidivism. The sources were identified using the Internet. World Wide Web searches were carried out and reviews were obtained from academic databases such as Scholar Commons, Digital Commons, Aura, Sofia and the databases of the following universities: Pacific University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of New Orleans, The University of Toledo, and The University of Cincinnatti.To ensure high quality work ,conclusions were made based on the latest scientific evidence available.

Keywords: Recidivism, Rehabilitation, Effective Implementation.

Results Programs That Work in Reducing Recidivism:

The justice system in the US has identified a variety of programs that if well implemented can effectively help to reduce the rate of recidivism in the US. These programs should be well implemented and target the right group of people for maximum efficiency. First there is employment of education and vocational programs. While in prison, the inmates are subjected to learning of new skills relevant to the job market so as to help them in getting jobs after leaving prison (McMasters, 2015). For instance, woodworking, masonry works, assembly workshops and studio recording. Again, inmates are enrolled in educational programs where they can further their studies to increase the chances of getting decent jobs after release. Specifically, juvenile offenders are enrolled in educational programs specially designed for them to help in mental growth and also in development of their a result of the vocational and education training, there is an increase in the rate of employment of ex-offenders ultimately reducing recidivism.As such these programs give a positive return on investment (Tennyson,2009).

Secondly, treatment of substance abuse is also an effective way of reducing recidivism. These aim at reducing alcohol and substance abuse with a greater goal of reducing crime. To point out, there are therapeutic communities which give patients a chance to get rehabilitation. Again, addicts give support to each other in the communities increasing the rate of recovery (Scarbrough, 2012). In this case, the longer patients stay in such treatment programs, the higher the rate of order to ensure long term success of the programs, aftercare is offered to rehabilitated addicts to avoid relapsing. In addition, drug courts have been opened in every state to help keep offenders in treatment for longer periods of time.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used in efforts to reduce recidivism. The treatment focuses on treatment of criminal attitudes and thinking. Similarly, modified therapeutic communities are used to reduce sexual recidivism. Examples of cognitive behavior programs are: aggression replacement training, relapse prevention therapy, reasoning and rehabilitation and moral recognition therapy (Paulson, 2013).

For offenders with mental illness, mental health treatment is a highly effective strategy. With early interventions the treatment registers a success rate of upto 80%.For this treatment to work there are diversion, institution and transitional programs which are combined and implemented together. For instance, crisis intervention teams, assertive community treatment modified therapeutic communities are mental health treatment programs (Brittany, 2011). Furthermore there are programs that are specifically designed for juvenile offenders. These are family based programs and include function family therapy, multi-systemic therapy and multi-dimensional treatment foster care. Notably, they designed to deal with causes of delinquency and have been scientifically proven to reduce recidivism among juveniles (Rhonda, 2007).

Some ex-offenders return to crime for lack of housing facilities and unemployment. For this reason, before their release from prison, inmates are taken through reentry programs. In such programs staff meet with the inmates to discuss their probation terms. In addition, reentry plans that include housing, treatment programs and employment are put into place (Jonson, 2010). As such, ex-convicts are kept form going back to crime. Moreover, in 2008, there was the introduction of the Risk Reduction Incentive Program. Inmates convicted of nonviolent offences can now reduce their sentence by behaving well in prison and also participating in rehabilitation programs (Jonson, 2010). Similarly, instead of sending paroles back to prison for breaking parole rules, a graduated sanctioning grid is used.

Proper Implementation Strategy:

The above programs for reducing recidivism can only work if they are properly implemented. First, the target groups for each program are identified. These are right people on whom such programs are implemented and are the people with higher likelihoods of going back to crime upon release (Paulson, 2013). In addition, offenders are classified into categories depending on their criminal records. To emphasize care should be taken to ensure that all the needs of the participants are captured to leaving out those with multiple problems. For instance, sex offenders who are also drug addicts. Upon classification, the next step is to determine implementation method to be used for each category. For maximum benefits, the best path to follow is a user friendly approach (Dennison, 2013). Such strategies encourage the offenders and ex-inmates to take the program to completion.

Likewise, it is important to monitor the quality of programs being implemented. While in prisons, inmates are closely supervised to ensure that they complete the rehabilitation programs by keeping records of their attendance (McMasters, 2015). Similarly their progress records are closely monitored to determine the effectiveness of the programs Again, there is data collection and performance measurement. Data is collected to be used to measure the success rate of the programs. The data collected includes facts such as the number of people who have completed the program and gone back to crime, figures of ex-prisoners who have been successfully rehabilitated and of those who have dropped out of the program (Scarbrough, 2012). Such information is crucial as it points out the areas of the programs that need to be changed or enhanced.

Further it is used to determine the relevance of the programs being implemented .Continuous collection of data also ensures that the programs are on track. Performance measurement is done on the officers who implement these programs to determine whether they are performing to the best of their ability. Consequentially, those with brilliant performance are given incentives. Such incentives motivate the officers to work hard (Schmidt, 2013). Effective implementation of these programs requires financial support from the local and federal governments. Funds are used to support continuous treatment and also for remuneration of the officers who implement the programs. Again the carrying out of research to collect data also bears a financial burden (Pate, 2010).


In conclusion, the US has the highest rate of recidivism in the word .Also, ex-prisoners are treated unfairly with limited access to employment opportunities, violation of voting rights and alienation from such most of these people return to crime and ultimately to jail. However the US is currently implementing programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health treatments and programs for juvenile offenders to reduce the rate of recidivism. Notably these programs are closely monitored and are well funded to ensure that they are effective.


Brittany, C. (2011).Mental Health Courts Effectiveness in Reducing Recidivism and Improving Clinical Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Retrieved on April, 19 2017 from: http://scholarcommons,

Dennison, C.R. (2013).Sentence Length and Recidivism: Are Longer Incarcerations the Solution to High Rates of Reoffending? The University of Toledo.

Jonson, C.L. (2010).The Impact of imprisonment on Reoffending: A Meta-Analysis. University of Cincinnati.

McMasters, A. (2015).Effective Strategies for Preventing Recidivism among Juveniles. Honors Senior Project Paper. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Pate, K.N. (2010).Florida's Truth in Sentencing Effectiveness on Recidivism Rates. The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Paulson,P.(2013).The Role of Community Based Programs in Reducing Recidivism in Ex-Offenders. Masters of Social Work Clinical Research Papers. Paper 247.Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

Rhonda, C.,&Vappie, A.(2007).Reducing the Rate of Recidivism for First-Time Juvenile Offenders with the Parent Monitoring Program, PMP: A Family Counseling Intervention Program. University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. Paper 578.

Scarbrough, S.H. (2012).Reducing Recidivism in Returning Offenders with Alcohol and Drug Related Offenses: Contracts of Delivery of Authentic Peer Based Recovery Support Services. Virginia Commonwealth University.

Schmidt, A. (2013).The Impact of Voluntary Aftercare on Recidivism Rates for Adult Male Sex Offenders. Dissertations and Thesis.56.Retrieved on April 19, 2017 from:

Tennyson, H.R. (2009).Reducing Juvenile Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis of Treatment Outcomes (Doctoral dissertation, Pacific University).Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

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