Evidenced Based Corrections and the Perils of Systemic Restructuring From a Traditional Prison to a Right Living Community
Heinrich, Kay Lenore
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Prisons can no longer be an end gate to incarcerate and incapacitate people who have broken the law. As exemplified by The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI), Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), and Washington States Senate Bill 6157, prisons must repair and prepare offenders for a successful return to their communities. With the backdrop of the nothing works retributive paradigm, rising incarceration rates, and revolving door syndrome, the emergence of evidenced based practices introduces a new paradigm that offers an alternative management and intervention system for prison administration. Evidenced based practices reduce reoffending while supporting corrections goals of safety and security. The implementation of evidenced based practices within the current correctional paradigm of retribution is complex and challenging. Introducing and upholding this new rehabilitative paradigm is dependent upon a systemic, cognitive restructuring of the criminal justice system, specifically prisons. Prisons must undergo a cultural shift in balancing control management and coercion with rehabilitation. This conflict between the two paradigms has resulted in a precarious tipping point for research-based implementation and the ability to achieve sustainability while avoiding paradigm paralysis. This process evaluation analyzes the transition of a large male (2035 inmate) multi- custody level prison from a traditionally managed facility into a Therapeutic Community (Right Living) Reentry Center. The current study will expand on the limited research available on actual day-to-day organizational development, collaboration, and therapeutic community implementation. The purpose is twofold: (1) to examine the implementation of an evidenced based practice in a prison-based reality, and (2) identify the sustainability of the model in the current prison paradigm. This evaluation is important because it demonstrates why evidenced based practices proven effective in changing criminogenic behavior and reducing recidivism struggle for sustainability within prisons.Results indicate that utilization of sound implementation processes and evidenced based practices will not be sustained unless implemented within a system-wide integrated model. When the mission and goals of the organization identify offender change practices as extrinsic and not intrinsic to correctional goals, alternative management and therapeutic systems will continue to be expendable, and therefore unsustainable.