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Parole, Desistance from Crime, and Community Integration
fosters the development of a more coherent structure for future research and policy development.
There is an overlap between conditions that promote desistance and the individual effects of change but it is not clear where that intersection lies. Does individual change provide a basis for employment and a stable marriage, or do a stable marriage and a job provide the context for individual change? Intervention research has shown that the most successful programs fostering individual change and leading to desistance are those that start in prison and then continue in the community setting once an individual is released.
The chapter begins with a review of research findings on interventions that are offered either before or after release from prison, organized in a desistance framework that includes education and employment, marriage, drug treatment, and individual change. This is followed by a section on current innovations in reentry programming, including prerelease planning and the consequences of early failure. The third section considers available services and their effects, including physical and mental health services, mentoring programs, and best practices.
RESEARCH ON PROGRAMS
Education and Employment
In the United States, adult corrections facilities have a long history of providing education and vocational training as part of the rehabilitation process (Piehl, 1998; Gaes et al., 1999), based on the belief that improving education and job skills will promote desistance. However, participation in these programs has been declining since the early 1990s: among soon-to-be-released prisoners in 1991, 42 percent reported participating in education programs and 31 percent in vocational programs; in 1997 the figures were 35 percent and 27 percent, respectively (Lynch and Sabol, 2001). The reasons for these declines include the rapid growth in the prison population, decreased state and federal funding for in-prison programs, the frequent transfers of prisoners from one facility to another, and greater interest in short-term programs, such as substance abuse and cognitive-behavioral programs (Lawrence et al., 2002).
Some studies show that recidivism rates are significantly lower for releasees with more education (MacKenzie, 2006; Adams et al., 1994; Boudin, 1993; Harer, 1995; Stillman, 1999, Fabelo, 2000). Moreover, comprehensive reviews of dozens of individual program evaluations generally conclude that adult academic and vocational programs lead to reduced recidivism (MacKenzie, 2006) and increased employment of 5-10 percent (Gerber and Fritsch, 1994; Gaes et al., 1999; Cullen and Gendreau, 2000;