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Measuring Likelihood of Desistance From Crime Upon Release From Prison

February 24, 2015

Here is an article on prison systems across our nation that are attempting to predict continued criminal engagement among prisoners upon release.

The problem as I see it is that the questions being utilized attempts to predict future criminal engagement (criminality) in which the experience of prisonization in and of itself associates with a change in the individual.

Prisonization is the social and bureaucratic process of adjustment and adaptation of the individual to prison life. A major part of this adaptation involves ‘managing punishment ‘, ‘personal safety ‘ in a harsh climate and ‘learning how to navigate the bureaucracy of prison management and power and authority among the prisoner hierarchy’. These are multiple concerns which promote the ability to stay alive and hopefully remain sane and uninjured.

In the traditional measure, discussed in the article I am critiquing, what is being used as a predictor of future criminality upon release is the “ability to manage one’s life in order to maximize survival”. This appears to me to be an invalid measure for gauging desistance and predicting less likelihood for future criminal behavior upon release from prison. Rather it appears the current measure may be more indicative of greater criminality upon release as a result if the prison system itself.
Basically, prisonization teaches neutralization (to avoid seeing ones self as guilty) solidifies drift (where the felon takes on the full or a split identity embracing criminality as a legitimate means of attaining life goals, and teaching if better skills related to deviance and/or crime.

Rather what is needed is to focus on shifting prosocial identity as a predictor of desistance and less likelihood if recidivism. This is the heart of the model and measure I am currently working on. More to come.

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