Research Paper By Janae’ Dresser
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Prisoner reform has long been a concern for law makers and the public alike. Throughout the 20th century, state policies have been established to reduce the recidivism rate; however, the structures and policies currently set in place have been found to have little effect on the reduction of crime. In some cases, recidivism rates actually increase. One question is clear – What can be done to support prisoner reform and how do we take action? As this article will reveal, some states and private enterprises are adopting the practice of using rehabilitation programs to support prisoners while incarcerated. The strategy of using coaches as part of rehabilitation efforts has been extremely effective receiving high praise from prison officials. The author will provide a background and history of the state prison rehabilitation systems and will discuss what efforts are currently being made towards integrating Life Coaching into state programs.
Background and History
Up until the 1970s, state prison systems focused on a rehabilitative sentencing model that assumed the recidivism rate of prisoners would be impacted by treatment and the danger of being incarcerated. While judges had the power to sentence criminals with wide discretion, parole boards and other prison administrators determined the length of the sentence. As a result, there was a triple gain in violent crimes during the 60s and early 70s; consequently, public officials insisted on tougher sanctions against criminal offenders (Warren, 2007).
In the mid 70s, federal and state governments changed sentencing policies to reflect the prisoner’s offense. The focus was placed on punishment and positive prevention versus rehabilitation. Rehabilitation programs tended to phase away. Instead of changing the behavior of the criminal, the system focused on removing the individual from society by administering harsher punishment which kept the criminal incarcerated for longer periods of time (Warren, 2007).
The result of the change in policy has been impressive. According to Warren (2007), “Between 1974 and 2005, the number of inmates in federal and state prisons increased from 216,000 to 1,525,924, an increase of more than six fold. America‘s rate of imprisonment had remained steady until the 1970s at about 110 per 100,000. Since that time, the U.S. imprisonment rate has increased more than fourfold to 491” (p.8). The number of inmates on probation and at local jails has increased in a like manner (Warren, 2007).