By Pyerse Dandridge
Author: Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp
Intervention should be a staple in the lives of those reentering society after serving a sentence. Predictions on the likelihood of recidivism based on various methods of study can definitely show positive results. However, should intervention only focus on those in immediate need? The effort towards intervention to prevent recidivism tends to focus on those at higher risk, but should intervention wait until it’s too late and past the opportune time to intervene for those seemingly at low risk to recidivate? I don’t believe it should. Intervention could be more successful in terms of prevention if men were seen in terms of their individual characteristics, rather than in groups based on blanket expectations or assumptions.
Those who have graduated high school, have friends who avoid trouble,or work hard to gain legitimate employment are at a lower risk of recidivating. In contrast, those who do not seek gainful employment, have a minimum education, bad tempers and impulses, or fail to change their choices post-release, are at higher risk for recidivism. Using high risk determining factors 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.
Interventions are focused on current behaviors and principles rather than past actions. For example, it may be beneficial to counsel a former criminal in regards to their past tendencies. Combating behaviors like anti-socialism, anger issues and grief, which are characteristics that ultimately led them to prison, would be beneficial in overcoming recidivism. The best way to target these behaviors is by talking about their current emotions and behaviors instead of focusing on their past mistakes.
Other intervention tactics include action plans instead of counseling. Action based interventions such as learning social skills to replace anti-social behavior, anger, aggression and distrust are often used. Other learning programs target new attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and include family members in making these new changes. Then there are programs that include drug and alcohol education, lectures, self-help, reading, and other self-improvement techniques to increase self-worth and self-efficacy.
These intervention tactics are of no use to those who have a lower risk of recidivating. Programs with counseling are better choices for those that are at a lower risk because it gives them a chance to mentally walk through their behavior and psychologically/ create a plan to stay on the right path. Intervention tactics that focus solely on the idea that those who are “more likely” to recidivate are of higher priority and concern should be reevaluated. With the high probability of recidivism amongst men after their release, one would think that there would be more outlets targeted to all the varying individuals at risk, rather than just those “more likely” to be at risk. After all, shouldn’t all men have the same opportunity to receive help to provide a better future for themselves?