Monday, December 18, 2006

Parents in Criminal Justice and Violence Risk

My reentry training last week kept me from finishing my summaries of the Criminology & Public Policy I recently got. Before I shelve it, I want to alert you quickly to the other two sets of articles in the issue that I haven’t commented on yet. One article and its reviews deal with examining the actual impact of parental criminal justice involvement on their kids. There are a lot of initiatives on this right now, and a lot of back-and-forth on “kids need maintained contact with their parents to stay out of trouble” versus “they’ll just get into more trouble with derelict parents.” So, the authors looks at parent risk factors and subsequent impact on their children. They concluded that parental substance abuse, mental health problems, and lack of education probably put the kids more at risk than their involvement in criminal justice. The moral for corrections sentencing? “. . . it is unrealistic to expect correctional programs that focus on inmates’ relationships with their children to single-handedly impact intergenerational incarceration.” If we’re serious, we’ll work on the substance abuse, mental health, and education factors as well. (Check also the article reviews, which lay out specific recs and questions that should be answered in these kinds of programs.)

The other set of article/reviews deals with violence risk screening in community corrections, where such assessments are vital for agents as well as general citizens. Kim a couple of weeks back gave you an excellent overview of the article and the issues it raises so I’ll just add a couple of thoughts.

The editorial intro was probably as valuable to me as the set itself, noting the basic methodological and administrative problems with risk assessments but also lauding the academic-practitioner partnerships that we’re seeing developed in this area. I found the overviews of effective assessment generally and specifically in Multnomah Co. (OR) interesting and thorough. I also appreciated the clear implication that these instruments are likely to be widely used due to the high costs of developing and administering them in individual jurisdictions. I found myself imagining each new “advance” in technocorrections being adopted for the same cost-cutting reasons . . . and posing similar questions of methodology, administration, and ethics. I hadn’t thought of this area as a possible resource for that one, but it may be. In any case, good articles, all worth your time.

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