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The Use and Impact of Correctional Programming for Inmates on Pre- and Post-Release Outcomes

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2017
41 pages
This paper reviews evidence on the impact of institutional programming on the pre-release and post-release outcomes for prisoners.
The focus is on inmate programming that is known to be provided to prisoners, has been evaluated, and addresses the main criminogenic needs or dynamic risk factors existing research has identified. The empirical evidence is examined for educational programming, employment programming, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), chemical dependency (CD) and sex offender treatment, social support programming, mental health interventions, domestic violence programming, and prisoner reentry programs. In addition to reviewing the evidence on the effects of these interventions on pre-release and post-release outcomes, this paper draws conclusions about the effectiveness of institutional programming, discusses gaps in the literature, and proposes a number of directions for future research. Five broad conclusions are drawn. First, the evidence reviewed indicates that CBT programs are the most effective in reducing prison misconduct and in decreasing recidivism. Second, social support interventions have been successful in reducing recidivism, but have been underused in U.S. correctional systems. Third, education and employment programs have, on the whole, produced favorable outcomes for post-release employment and cost avoidance. Fourth, programs that address criminogenic needs and deliver a continuum of care have promise in producing favorable outcomes for offenders with mental disorders. Overall, prisoner reentry programs have reduced recidivism and improved employment. 177 references

Date Published: June 1, 2017