According to one of the critical areas of contemporary concern for correctional administrators is the development and implementation of effective correctional programs. This is specifically relevant because the public and other correctional practice stakeholders strongly support rehabilitation programs for offenders. More importantly is that significant amounts of money have been invested in correctional programming, which has led to a persistent demand by the stakeholders of programs that work.
Correctional programs are important because they help to bring up changes in motivations, thoughts, and attitudes, which will offer the cognitive transition crucial to enable the offenders to move toward a non-criminal way of life. Moreover, correctional systems should ensure that these programs work since those reentering the community after prison are so many and the problems they face are numerous. Therefore, the correctional practices should be able to prepare these offenders well enough for them to overcome such challenges.
According to successful correctional programs have stable leadership and engagement of the program director. The administrators involved in designing correctional programs should be qualified and experienced. Moreover, these leaders should take part in staff recruitment and training, and in most cases should engage in activities such as providing some direct services to offenders. It is also critical that effective correctional programs values and goals be in line with existing values in the society or organization where they operate and that there should be a documented need for the program. Besides, operational correctional programs should be efficient regarding cost-effectiveness.
Effective correctional programs should always assess and classify the offenders to be involved in the practice. Usually, most programs have established criteria for admissions; receive proper clients, as well as have a rational clinical basis for the elimination of certain kinds of criminals. Moreover, efficient correctional programs assess some offender characteristics based on risk and need. They do this by incorporating standardized, objective, actuarial instrument. Such devices test the degree of motivation, intelligence, or psychological development.
Most successful correctional programs concentrate the vast majority of their efforts on identifying criminogenic needs and behaviors. Moreover, it is important to evaluate if a program has criteria for completion, and upon releasing the offenders, they should be routinely recommended to programs and administrations that assist them to meet their needs. Effective programs should also possess a treatment model that have complied with the prescribed standards and found to be efficient. The treatment model should be one, which has a reward system to encourage program participation and compliance, efficient utilization of punishment, and the staff being permitted to design their interventions. Additionally, effective correctional programs should be structured in a way that they include family and friends of the offender in the treatment process as a measure to provide aftercare services when the victim is released.
Correctional program staff working with the offenders ought to be educated and experienced. They should possess critical aptitudes such as fairness, firmness, and problem-solving skills. The correctional facility should ensure constant training of the staff on matters relating to the clinical treatment of the offenders enrolled in the program. Besides, the program should have a running system such as staff compensation based on merit as well as a grievance system to solve rising disputes among staff. The importance of this is to ensure staff retention and motivation thereby reducing chances of increased staff turnover.
Another factor to consider in correctional program evaluation is whether the program engages in a review of files and case audits. These helps in determining the offender performance based on his records as well as identifying who is successful and who is not. Consequently, adjustments are then made based on the results of the review.
According to recidivism is common in correctional programs and therefore, cannot be ignored. A correctional official can utilize multiple indicators such as convictions, arrests, program completion, incarceration rates, technical violations, type, and severity of offenses as strategies to measure the outcome of a correctional program. Moreover, the official can carry out follow-up studies of adequate length to sufficiently evaluate recidivism. The official can as well create comparison groups. The common and dominant approaches used to create these groups are the experimental designs. However, quasi-experimental designs research can also be applied if necessary to develop the comparison groups.
A correctional officer should seek extensively adequate information regarding a program as well as inquiring facts regarding the program quality. A good correctional program in place and being funded ought to be of great quality to minimize the criminal behavior of the offenders it is serving. Besides, evidence should exist to prove the same.
When determining which program to select, a correctional official should make evaluation a crucial part of his/her program. A proper assessment can enhance their program in many ways. Besides, forming partnerships with researchers is important as well. Establishing connections with researchers and evaluators can earn high returns, which usually surpass research reports. Furthermore, evaluators can bring assistance in database development, provision of interns, offering help in developing offender selection process and criteria. Also, they can provide aid in the identification and selection of evaluation and classification instruments as well as ensure systematic capturing of data concerning the program and offenders being served.
Mostly, evaluation scrutiny is for newer programs and rarely is existing programs subjected to assessment. However, this should not be the case since all programs can be enhanced and result from evaluations utilized to provide effective information for program change. Again, it does not mean that because a program has been in operation for a while, it is effective.
Finally, the correctional officer can use information from past reports to make an informed decision regarding the best program to choose. Data-driven programs tend to be more efficient than those that are not. Additionally, data avails ideas into programs and offender performance as well as helping in identifying who is successful and who is not. They likewise allow adjustments to be made.
Correctional program evaluation is truly an important aspect of determining the effectiveness of a program. The significance of evaluating a program especially those operating in societies is to give transparency to stakeholders of correctional facilities regarding how best their finances are being utilized to run the practice. Carrying out a program assessment is not an easy task but can be eased by considering various factors as discussed above. Moreover, correctional officials also have a rationale in which they can select the best correctional program for their institutions. The logic pertains more or less the functionality of a program itself.