Focused Deterrence Interventions: A Critical Review


Joseph Dule University of New Haven

Boston pioneered a focused deterrence strategy in the 1990s, to reduce high rates of youth and gang violence. Initially, Boston’s “Operation Ceasefire” working group conducted problem analysis. This research revealed approximately 60% of Boston homicides were gang related, and that both the perpetrators and victims of violence were highly criminal—i.e., they possessed criminal records and were typically known (often by-name) by the Boston Police Department (BPD).  Accordingly, the intervention aimed to “communicate incentives and disincentives directly to known high risk chronic offenders” (Corsaro & Engel, 2015).  To accomplish this, BPD conducted “call in” sessions with chronic offenders—often those who were out on parole—to make them aware that violence would not be tolerated (Kennedy et al., 2001).  The BPD message was simple: if you commit violence, then every legal lever possible will be pulled to ensure that you will be held accountable.  Further, not only will violence not be tolerated, but if one person in the group commits violence, then “heat” from the BPD will be brought on to the entire group (Kennedy, 2011). 

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Examining Dog-Training Programs in Prison: Success Found Among Confounding Factors

prison dog-training

Kevin Earl University of New Haven

Dogs have great therapeutic power. It is easy to think of anecdotal evidence of this being true. In day-to-day life, dog owners are able to decompress after a long day at work or are simply able to feel unconditional love from them. Dogs are able to provide services for disabled individuals. Dogs can become certified specifically to help individuals cope with loss or depression. Dogs can even predict ill health and help individuals recover from ill health (Sachs-Ericsson, Hansen, and Fitzgerald; Wells, 2007). In consideration of all the benefits of having a dog in one’s life, the question one must ask is: can prisoners benefit from dogs as well?

This paper examines dog-training programs in the prison setting with regard to their ability to achieve their goals and objectives related to recidivism. Dog-training programs (DTPs) are the most common type of prison-based animal program, with 290 facilities across all 50 states having implemented them (Cooke and Farrington, 2016). The goals and objectives of DTPs vary slightly from program-to-program; however, the main focuses are recidivism and behavior in prison. DTPs teach prisoners to be dog trainers as a means of providing a source of rehabilitation to combat recidivism. Through this examination, the author concludes that DTPs are successful in that they achieve desired results. Criminological theories as well as limitations of evaluations performed on these programs that explain this success are discussed.

Continue reading about prison dog training programsExamining Dog-Training Programs in Prison: Success Found Among Confounding Factors

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What Does It Mean to Become a Certified Evidence Based Practitioner (CEBP) Or, Giving Up Your “Guy in a Diner” Card

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What Does It Mean to Become a Certified Evidence Based Practitioner (CEBP) Or,

Giving Up Your “Guy in a Diner” Card

Mark M. Lowis, LMSW, MINT, CEBP, Joyfields Institute for Evidence-Based Professionals

If you get the chance to go to your local family style restaurant and observe, you will notice there is always one table where a few distinguished men of retirement age (a recent accomplishment for me) sit together and visit.  Their conversation often turns to politics, social problems, world affairs, and family members worthy of discussion.  In other words, they are using their collective experiences, intuition and opinions to solve the problems of the universe.  Often, they include science in their conversation, which sounds a bit like this: “And that’s proved!” Or, “Everyone knows that.”  “Scientists have proven that!” “It happened to my cousin!”  “I read it in the paper!”  All of course are intended to give weight to their observations and ideas.  Practitioners most resemble a guy in a diner when they operate in clinically driven situations from their opinion, intuition or assumptions.  Like the guy in a diner, the clinical examination and consideration of deeper issues, and the corresponding approach or intervention, cannot be effectively developed.  The end result is that the guy in a diner belief, which is rarely helpful and may contribute to treatment failures, informs the practitioner’s future with that person. 

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Police Use of Force Policy and Excessive Force

vol2 no2 police use of force res

Evin Carmack, University of New Haven

This paper seeks to examine use of force policy and its impact on instances of excessive force.  Use of force policy has been an ongoing national issue, as high-profile cases of officer-involved shootings are being increasingly reported.  As police departments have become more formalized, so have their rules and regulations.  Use of force policy was seen as a strategy to regulate the amount of force officers used when attempting to subdue an unwilling subject.  The research on this subject has been mixed and has shown some training techniques to be more effective than others.  Research findings also suggest that it is the encounter characteristics of the interaction that are most likely correlated with use of force decisions.  Therefore, future research should focus on encounter characteristics and on training officers in dealing with those different encounter characteristics.

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The Efficacy of Drug Courts

header photo of a young person playing basketball for drug court article

Meredith Emigh, University of New Haven

Drug courts were designed to divert drug-involved offenders with less serious charges into treatment instead of prison. It is estimated that 78% of property crimes and 77% of public order offenses are related to drug or alcohol abuse, which costs the United States $74 billion a year (CASA, 2010). This includes the cost of police, court, prison, probation and parole services. Substance-involved offenders are more likely to recidivate than their sober peers (CASA, 2010). Proponents of the drug court model claim that it prevents recidivism while also saving a considerable amount of money. However, evaluation research is necessary to determine whether drug courts are truly effective.

There have been many evaluation studies of drug courts in the last two decades, most of which suggest that drug courts are at least somewhat effective. Unfortunately, these studies relied on methodology that does not provide the most scientifically rigorous results, including quasi-experimental and retrospective designs. This paper will review the current research on drug court effectiveness to determine whether these courts meet the dual goals of saving money while lowering rates of recidivism and substance use.

Continue reading about the effectiveness of drug courtsThe Efficacy of Drug Courts

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Deinstitutionalization, Mental Health, and Criminal Populations: How the Process of Deinstitutionalization Affected Current Incarceration Rates of the Mentally Ill


Sherry Siller, University of New Haven
Formally, deinstitutionalization began on a large scale in the early 1950s, at a time when the number of institutionalized people was at a record high of 559,000 (Deas-Nesmith, McLeod-Bryant, & Carolina, 1992).  As a policy, deinstitutionalization mandated a shift in the caring of individuals with mental illness from state run environments to the community. The goal of deinstitutionalization was the large-scale elimination of the long-term care, state-run, residential facilities for the mentally ill (Pow, Baumeister, Hawkins, Cohen, & Garand, 2015). Ultimately, this goal can be broken down into several components: (1) the release of individuals from psychiatric hospitals who are capable of caring for themselves with medication; (2) the transfer of mentally ill individuals to community based care centers, and the diversion of new admissions to alternative, locally run facilities; (3) the development of specialized services to monitor and care for, as needed, the noninstitutionalized (outpatient) mentally ill population; and (4) to reduce the costs associated with long-term institutionalization (Lamb & Bachrach, 2001; Sutherland, 2015).
Deinstitutionalization as a whole consists of the sum of its parts, meaning it is not just one specific action that caused the mass decline in state run psychiatric facilities for the mentally ill, but several actions and policy changes occurring in roughly the same time interval. Furthermore, its goals were achieved through multiple initiatives, at both macro and micro levels. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine this multifaceted approach toward reducing the number of long term mentally ill cared for by the states. It also will examine how deinstitutionalization has impacted the current rates of mental illness and the current initiatives aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill incarcerated.

Continue reading about deinstitutionalization in the criminal justice systemDeinstitutionalization, Mental Health, and Criminal Populations: How the Process of...

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Revitalizing Problem-Oriented Policing Through SWOT Analysis Concepts

Elderly Prison Inmates: Specifying Priorities for Care and Staff Training

George M. Froggé, Austin Peay State University 


Crime prevention is part of a police department’s job responsibilities, along with creating safer communities for its residents.  Collaboration between the two is essential for the process to be successful.  This collaboration is the basis for community policing and working together to reduce crime through problem-oriented policing or POP.  In this paper, three popular POP models will be examined for strengths and weaknesses.  The discussion will improve on the weaknesses and revitalize the model’s effectiveness through SWOT analysis concepts.  This collaboration will examine how their conjunctive usages may help reduce crime in our communities.

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Farmers, and the amazing things they do!

Today I ran across a brief note I wrote a while ago. I share it here to encourage.

I have this image in my mind of a large corn field. Am looking right at it, and asking myself, "What could be going on" inside those stalks as they float and sway collectively in the gentle, and sometimes unkind outdoor wind? What about their cells and the elements within that "organized" themselves from seedling days, to fully grown maize plants, and ultimately produce bountiful ears of corn for its harvests?

No doubt the farmer presumably did their best to till the soil, weed, fertilize and water the young plant. Following that, then what’s inside and outside the seedling takes over – the cells, the soil, sunshine, wind, rain and, who knows what else. In the end, we have a harvest like no other as the outcome. Success for the farmer and the farm. And the corn too! All they did was create conditions most suited for the seedling to work successfully with what's within, and without, and thrive. Pure genius!

Well, it made me think of you, and amazing work you do everyday, and how it’s so like "farming". We apply our best selves, and leverage resources at our disposal to create conditions for our customers to utilize what is inside, and outside of them to thrive. Playing your “A” game at all interactions with clients, making every little time we have with them matter. Like the farmer, we can be confident that what's inside, and outside our "corn" will work together to complete the work, and produce the bountiful harvest we are going for.

So today, let me encourage you in your work, and also wish you much continued success.

With much humility,

Sobem Nwoko


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Elderly Prison Inmates: Specifying Priorities for Care and Staff Training

Elderly Prison Inmates: Specifying Priorities for Care and Staff Training

Melissa Inglis, East Central University & Tracy Tully, City University of New York, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Geriatric inmates are the fastest growing demographic in United States prisons, accounting for approximately 16% of the total prison population (Metla, 2015). Despite this alarming statistic, criminological research on the topic of   geriatric inmates is lacking. While many state agencies are attempting to conduct research about this topic, there are few scholarly studies on the aging prison population in the United States. Even fewer scholarly studies address the subject of geriatric care and staff training in correctional facilities. 

This is an important topic due to the high number of elderly inmates currently incarcerated as well as the high number of inmates who are growing old in prisons. According to the Bureau of Justice, the number of prisoners age 55 or older sentenced to more than 1 year in state prison increased 400% between 1993 and 2013, from 26,300 (3% of the total state prison population) in 1993 to 131,500 (10% of the total population) in 2013 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2016). Additionally, the number of sentenced federal prisoners age 65 or older grew at 94 times the rate of the overall prison population between 2007 and 2010 (Fellner, 2012). Chow (2002) found that the increase in the elderly federal prison population has been occurring since at least 1989 and has been of high concern to federal prisons, yet not a great deal has been done to address this increase in the population.

Continue reading about specifying priorities for care and staff training of elderly inmatesElderly Prison Inmates: Specifying Priorities for Care and Staff Training

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Incarceration: The Motherhood Effect

Incarceration: The Motherhood Effect

Timothy Daty, University of New Haven

Over the years, the impact of parental incarceration on families has been a widely explored research topic within the field of criminal justice. In examining parental incarceration, researchers often analyze how children react cognitively to a parent’s imprisonment. In the United States, 1.5 million children have a parent currently serving time in prison (Hairston, 2012). Until recently, most family research studies focused on paternal impacts on child development (Wildeman, 2009). This is unsurprising, given that women currently occupy approximately 8-10% of prison populations within the United States (Arditti, 2015). However, since 1980, the number of female prisoners has increased by 646% (Harrison & Beck, 2006). In most of these cases, the female prisoners are mothers (Harrison & Beck, 2006). This has presented a new challenge within the study of family dynamics and criminology. 

Given the rising levels of incarceration within the United States, research is now exploring how maternal incarceration may influence children in both childhood behavior and long-term success. While there are many variables to consider, Wildeman & Turney (2015) advance that a child’s upbringing is a predicator for how they will behave following maternal imprisonment. Children are astute and can commonly detect their mother’s propensities for crime. In these cases, children with problematic mothers are more cognitively prepared for maternal incarceration.

Continue reading about maternal incarcerationIncarceration: The Motherhood Effect

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