Thursday, December 06, 2007

Two More Gulfs

As I unwind from one two-day session and prepare for another one (see below), I thought about a couple of more gulfs in how we do reentry beyond the one between practitioners and most policymakers, academics, reporters, and citizens that I previously mentioned. These two have to do with the application of the data and research we have on what works and what doesn't in reentry. One gulf is between the research and the practice itself. It's amazing how much of what we have found about recidivism, desistance, and factors associated with reentry success has actually made its way into practice, at least in my department. But there is still so much, particularly in the areas of TECHNOCORRECTIONS (beyond GPS and Interlocks, that is), that still awaits and is not being prepared for right now. The practitioners know the reality of the current research better than we have a right to expect for what we pay them, but the potential for introduction of new things without adequate prep is still enormous, with all that portends.

The other gulf is related to this last point. What is being practiced is basically first-generation stuff. We do know "what works" and "what doesn't" and "what seems to look good but the jury's still out," but it's the same stuff, for the most part, we talked about 10 years ago. It's what the public reports still get written about. The lag between the cutting edge of what's being found out right now, the technologies that are having their marketing strategies being planned right now, and the research we do practice is, by definition, substantial. It's safer to be promoting and practicing the stuff we know and have institutionalized, but there are better practices out there (and some scarier ones) that have yet to make their way forward, mostly to our detriment. We need to foster greater awareness of these ideas and practices and promote new means to effect them. The NIC's new blog forum (again, see below--more tricks to make you read other posts) seems like a promising way to disseminate, and of course, I'm still waiting here for more than my 4 comment record. (Not all of us can be Berman and bring down servers.)

Anyway, just some random thoughts after two days of brain-frying. I can hardly wait to see what the next two bring.

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