Plugging the Gaps in Reentry Programming

•July 20, 2008 • 1 Comment

Abstract

The tendency of corrections and community corrections to ignore the special needs of the elderly ex-offender is progressively evident by the absence of literature on the topic. Programming and supervision are directed to those who will be entering the workforce upon release or those with mental health issues but not supportive safety nets for the transitioning elderly ex-offender. Because of this gap in services, research material is extremely sparse and therefore, the absence of literature on this topic points to the need for elder-focused programming and supervision. Recommendations are discussed as are the barriers to achieving the goal of special care for elderly ex-offenders in America’s communities.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3

List of Figures…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

Problem Statement……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

Determination Checklist……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

Research Questions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 11

            Question 1…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 11

            Question 2…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 22

            Question 3…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 23

Recommendations for Further Inquiry………………………………………………………………………………….. 25

Methodological Approaches used to Examine Issue……………………………………………………………….. 26

Approach to Addressing the Gaps……………………………………………………………………………………… 32

Summary of Key Findings…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 35

            Finding 1…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 35

            Finding 2…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 36

            Finding 3…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

            Collaboration……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

            Faith-based Communities……………………………………………………………………………………….. 38

            Step-down Programs…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39

            Evaluation Processes…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 40

            Mapping Techniques……………………………………………………………………………………………… 41

            Expansion of Existing Services………………………………………………………………………………… 41

            New Design………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 42

Personal Observation……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

References…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 45

Appendix A……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 48

 


List of Figures

Figure 1:  Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence…………………………………………………………… 40

 


Introduction

            The disparity between existing services for the ex-offender entering the workforce and services for the elderly ex-offender who will not be finding a job creates a gap in currently available services. So the question is; are current elder programs and services capable of addressing the needs of elderly exoffenders or must there be modifications? The intent of this discussion is to provide explanation of the need for special programming and supervision for the elderly ex-offender and to offer suggestions for further research to determine just how the needs of this population can be met. The supposition of the author that what is currently available does not meet these needs provides the drive to seek proof of this supposition as well as reviewing what, if anything has been done so far to satisfy the growing need. In determining whether or not this proposed solution is realistic and practical the following criteria have been met to warrant further development of the concept.

Problem Statement

            The current reentry programs provided my many Departments of Corrections (DOC) are missing the special needs of the elderly ex-offender as they transition into the community. Most programming is focused on those most likely to recidivate which certainly has merit both for the wellbeing of society and the cost effectiveness of expended DOC dollars. This cannot be a one-size-fits-all endeavor because the needs and motivations of the elderly are much different from those of the young. Generic programming is a waste of money and time because more tailored programs produce greater success rates (Lawrence, Mears, Dubin, & Travis, 2002). Much of the focus is on obtaining employment once released which in most cases is a moot point with someone of retirement age and no marketed skills as is the case for most elderly ex-offenders. Lengthy and consistent aftercare is something that is in short demand and suggestion can be made that this contributes to recidivism, homelessness, and moral travesty. Evidence points to the fact that aftercare makes a significant difference in the success rate of ex-offenders (Kurlychek & Kempinen, 2006).

The average time spent with a Parole and Probation Officer (PPO) is 15 minutes twice a month (Petersilia, 2001). This is far from sufficient time to address the needs of the elderly ex-offender. Statistics are proving that many elderly are committing more crimes of a serious nature and therefore taking their specific needs into consideration could possibly stanch the flow of their return to correctional facilities (Williams, 2006). Nearly two-thirds of those on parole will return to prison within three years (Petersilia, 2001). In the absence of special attention many elderly become homeless or recidivate in order to return to the safety of what has become familiar over their time of incarceration (Williams, 2006). An irony is connected to the fact that the elderly who are often victimized within the prison setting will “. . . commit crimes in order to intentionally return to prison, out of a social need to return to a safe, familiar environment, rather than a tumultuous, unfamiliar one” Williams, 2006).

It makes no sense to spend well over $20,000 a year for the care of an inmate and refuse to spend only up to around $2,500 a year on them after release (Petersilia, 2005, April). It should be noted that the cost of incarceration for the elderly is often three times higher than caring for young inmates because of their special needs (Yates & Gillespie, 2000). This fact alone accentuates the absurdity of ignoring the specific needs of the elderly ex-offender once they have been released. Their cost of care can be disbursed over several agencies such as Food Stamps, Medicare, and other senior focused programs and services as opposed to the DOC bearing the expense. During the first year of release even half of the cost of care spent by the DOC during a year of incarceration could be spent to assist in supporting a successful reentry of an elderly ex-offender into society. During this period alliances and relationships could be developed and nurtured between the ex-offender and community members, church congregations, and other participating organizations to ensure a stable support system that would lessen the likelihood of recidivation. ”Prisoners who are overly optimistic about their chances of abstaining from reoffending upon release may fail to take appropriate actions to moderate their risks of recidivism. . .” (Dhami, Mandel, Loewenstein, & Ayton, 2006, p. 644). With the right support this optimistic attitude could be made a reality other

            The growing elderly population inside the American prison system points to the importance of this issue. “In prisons, 50-year-olds are commonly considered old, in part because the health of the average 50-year-old prisoner approximates that of average persons 10 years older in the free community” (Petersilia, 2001, n.p.). Ignoring the special needs of this population is costing DOCs across the nation unnecessary expense and endangering the general public by not preparing those released for success. If they do not succeed they will reoffend and return to prison and will once again begin to drain the meager DOC budgets because of the high cost of care they require. “Imprisonment can cause psychological breakdown, depression, or mental illness. . .” (Petersilia, 2001, n.p.). This fact can only be intensified because of the aging factor that compounds it. Elderly people tend to be more frequently depressed and are more inclined to dementia (Williams, 2006). “It is not uncommon for elderly inmates to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, ranging from various forms of depression and anxiety disorders, to ailments that are more specific to this age group, such as Alzheimer’s disease” (Williams, 2006, p. 6). Physical ailments such as dentures, pacemakers, hip replacements, and cataracts also begin to raise the cost of care that come with age.

            Although ample research being done in the corrections arena on transitions programs inside institutions, there has been little in recent years on parole. “Without better information, the public is likely to give corrections officials the political permission to invest in rehabilitation and job training programs for parolees” (Petersilia, 2001, n.p.). Huge quantities of money have been poured into reentry programming, one of which is the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI). The $100 million dollars to assist 60,000 ex-offenders over a three year period equates to approximately $66 per participant per year (Lattimore, 2007). Obviously, what on the surface may seem progressive is not really very effective. Steve Aos (2001) did a significant study in Washington State on what actually works that would serve as an excellent guide for where to funnel funding in the future (Lattimore, 2007). In addition to the attention focused on preparing the inmate for reentry there must be a raised awareness regarding the types of neighborhoods into which they are reentering. “. . . by ignoring community context, we are likely setting up ex-inmates for failure” (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006, p. 189). This research should send a message especially where the elderly are concerned because a neighborhood that is dangerous to a younger person could mean tragedy for an elderly individual and this is where the public morality comes in.

Determination Checklist (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005)

            The problem deals with people, records, thoughts and ideas, and the dynamics and energy invested in reentry programming. Available data covers these areas listed but fails to specifically mention the elderly ex-offender and it is for that very reason further investigation is necessary. Sociology and Gerontology as well as Criminology would be academic focuses relative to the scope of this paper. Sociology is pertinent because of the environment in which the elderly ex-offender exists, Gerontology because of its focus on traits of the elderly and their special needs, and of course, Criminology because the ex-offender with whom the program would deal. Special aptitudes possessed by this author relate to intense interest in the topic, growing experience in the corrections arena, educational track of gerontology, and a deep affection for the elderly.  

            Available data is copious and easily accessed on a daily basis through work related connections. Contact with data sources is possible through private research and at work through department databases. The only hindrance to the gathering of inmate data is the permission to have interviews with the inmates because the author is a department employee which would be considered a conflict of interest. Special application for permission is required for this segment of research. The significant absence of data on the target population points to the problem. If a sufficiently convincing proposal can be presented to the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) research section then there is hope of generating specific data to support the presence of this problem and justify further investigation.

Conversations with community service agencies that aid the elderly are necessary in order to determine if they are capable of amending their services to encompass the additional needs of an ex-offender. Nothing more than good listening skills and a tape recorder are needed to obtain a feeling for community views on this topic. Since the majority of the research would be done on the author’s personal time there would be minimal expense to anyone other than her. Use of Likert Scale type questionnaires would be supplemental to the interviews for a quantitative perspective in addition to the predominantly qualitative research approach. One would support or invalidate the other as a check and balance for the validity of the data as suggested by Onwuegbuzie and Leech, (2005). Taking time to determine the views of the elderly inmate and ex-offender to verify the presumed need is highly important. “Listening to and documenting the experiences of these prisoners, along with the members of the communities to which they return , will ideally guide policy innovations that are empirically grounded, pragmatic and reflective of the realities of reentry” (McBride, Visher, & LaVigne, 2005, p. 93). There also, is an expected disparity between the perceived need of the inmate from that of the ex-offender due to the barriers confronted once reentering society (Dhami, Mandel, Loewenstein, & Ayton, 2006). This knowledge should be another guiding factor in the development of programs in order to prevent excessive discouragement after a couple weeks in the community. This is where coping skills will serve the ex-offender as they are confronted with the many barriers to success in the real world.

            Universality of the data gathered is limited to the corrections and parole arena. Replication of the process would be simple as it would primarily be a replication of those who have previously researched parallel facets of the reentry debacle. When gathering data from the elderly inmate population there will be control exercised over those included in the research process. Age, criminogenic history, family and neighborhood dynamics, and mental health will all be determining factors for relevance to the perceived need for special programming and services.

Research Questions

1.      Does the current demand warrant expansion of current elder programs and services on the outside to encompass the needs of elderly exoffenders?

Aday, R. H. (2003). Aging prisoners: Crisis in American corrections, Westport, CT: Praeger.

 

            The contents of this book are a compilation of information gathered from a wide array of researchers and other professionals that indicates a significant problem posed by the growing elderly prison population. Each chapter has its own reference list but no literature review is present. Although not an article the book would be considered conceptual because of the broad and thorough coverage of the concept of a graying of America’s prison population. There was no researcher control mentioned since the book is the summation of information from many sources and the author’s interpretation and insight on the topic. Essentially this was more the author’s opinion founded upon the information gathered from others. The entire essence of the book implies that the need is significant to warrant specific programming for elderly inmates and ex-offenders.

Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC), (2003). Georgia’s aging inmate population, Retrieved February 4, 2007 from http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/reports/agingpopulation.html

            This is a summary of data on elderly inmates in several states and how their growing numbers are affecting the direction of prison design, health services, and other facets of the correctional arena. Because of the broad area from where the data has been collected the research can be considered to be strong and reliable. Another element of strength is that this article is five years old which makes it possible to see that the predictions are accurate which lends credibility to the author’s statements. The information is definitely transferable across all DOCs as the general population of the country is graying at the same rate as the one inside correctional facilities. There was no literature review present and the sampling is from the state’s correctional databases. The analysis of the data was proved the hypothesis that elderly prisoners pose a significant problem to how the DOC runs. The state of Georgia is actively addressing these issues which verify their belief that these predictions definitely support the premise of a growing need existing for elder focused programming and services for reentry.

Gibbons, J. J., & Katzenbach, N. B., (2006, June). Confronting confinement, The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, Vera Institute of Justice, 95-97.

This is a brief report published by the Vera Institute of Justice focused on educating the public about corrections by having greater access to correctional facilities and those who work and live there. No sampling method is mentioned nor is the means of data collection. Not being an empirical article it does not fully meet any of the criteria relative to the focus of this paper. In spite of this deficit the article does support the concept of an educated public being more amenable to reentry programming of any kind because of their fuller understanding of the true situation of those incarcerated.

Hatcher, S. S., (2007, Summer). Transitional care for offenders with mental illness in jail: Mapping indicators of successful community reentry, Best Practices in Mental Health, 3(2), 38-51.

The problem is the adequacy of services for mentally ill inmates as they reenter the community.  The response to this problem is a qualitative research article that is aimed toward discovering indicators for successful reentry and what service areas will help participants stay in the community once released from prison. As the article progresses evidence builds for parallel issues existing for the mentally ill and the elderly ex-offender. The study broke the problem down into two areas; indicators for successful reentry, and the service areas of care that assist in keeping the participants in the community. This is a very real problem in community corrections at present because of the huge quantity of released mentally ill offenders and the shrinking budgets of all government services. These present issues certainly warrant this study. There is no indication that there has been prior research in regards to mapping reentry of mentally ill inmates.

There was no literature review, merely a reference list was provided but the references provided have direct relevance to the issues that are discussed in the study. As distinct correlation between the theory and the actual problem is seen it can be concluded that a similar type of programming would serve the elderly ex-offender population equally as well. The study could be considered conceptual in that the outcome of the study if implemented could have a direct impact on the history of reentry of mentally ill inmates into society and their ability to remain there.

The independent variable in this study would be the services for the mentally ill inmates and the dependent variable would be the mentally inmates for which those services are provided. Confounding variables would be the cost of services, or properly trained staff in the serving agencies. Another variable that could change the outcome would to include Caucasians in the study or if the population were all male or all female.

The hypothesis is clearly stated as there being additional aspects of living that must be considered for the success of the reentering mentally ill inmate. The process used to verify this hypothesis is repeatable but the outcome may be different depending upon the participants in an ensuing study. There is a direct relationship between the hypothesis and the outcome of the study. If the life events of the reentering inmate are not addressed then there will be less success on the outside. If they are addressed then there will be less recidivism.

The sampling method was non-probable and that of convenience because they took all the participants from a single facility. One group was from the mental health unit with 22 participants, another group from general population with 10 participants, and the last group was comprised staff in the same facility totaling nine individuals. The size of the sample although small was representative of the population that was comprised of non-Caucasian participants. The selection of this population seemed appropriate because they all came from a single facility and therefore all experienced a similar environment. Any bias present was strictly a result of using one facility and the singling out of a particular ethnicity.

The responses of the participants in the study formed the person-centered service area based on their individual perceptions and needs. These factors can be written into the focus of services and treatment to better facilitate success. This method is very appropriate because of the ability to develop specific treatment and services for those in the program. The collection method was done by asking for a list of success factors from each group, and then the participants sorted the responses into groupings to determine what was most important. The third phase of this study included only the staff group as they reviewed the resulting maps created by the collected responses. The method used is called concept mapping by the researchers and is designed to draw relationships between ideas of participants and the development of theory and measurement for other similar consumers. The validity lies within the specific group because it is essentially a result of that group’s responses and perceptions. The instruments used to gather the data was clearly described as inquiring about the perceived life events that impact reentry. The instrument evolved as the data was gathered.

A result list is provided that clearly identifies the general perceptions of successful reentry by the study’s participants. The one figure that was provided was extremely unclear to the average reader. The size of its segments was minute and there was insufficient instruction on how to decipher the figure content. The table that was used was the exact opposite in that it was extremely clear and understandable. One can only assume that the statistical test in this study is appropriate since it is based on this particular group. The outcome of the study is likely to be somewhat different from another similar group merely because of their individual perceptions of what it takes to be successful on the outside.

Strengths of this study come from the fact that the participants determined the responses and not the researchers. The limitations are that all participants were people of color which could hinder the generalization of the results. Another limitation that is indicated is that they were not permitted to interview every detainee. The interpretation is solidly based on the findings of the study, but since there was no similar research there could be no relational discussions. The researchers caution the reader against generalizing the findings because of the nature of the specificity of the study. It is suggested that similar mapping processes be done at other facilities to better assess the reliability of the findings.

There was a modicum of researcher control but the intent of the questioning method was to have the participants create the features they perceived as most necessary to successful reentry themselves. The way this research was done would work perfectly with elderly ex-offenders because they would have pertinent input as to what they perceive as vital pieces to their success upon reentry into the community. If this type of study were done in the state of Oregon there would be as considerably larger population to work with and the multicultural factor would be broader.

Kurlychek, M. & Kempinen, C., (2006). Beyond boot camp: The impact of aftercare on offender reentry, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 363-388.

This is a quantitative study that is based upon probability sampling because all participants of one group were those who had no aftercare upon graduation from bootcamp consisting of 383 individuals and the other group of 337 members were all the inmates who did receive 90-day aftercare upon graduation. The article looks into the merits of aftercare in relation to recidivism rates. The study was done in Pennsylvania using inmates from one Boot Camp. There were 23 different aftercare programs that were used but this did not have a significant impact on the results of the study. The study group and that of the control group were followed up on at six-month, one year, and two year intervals after leaving the aftercare programs to check for recidivism and the results were significantly different between the two groups.

The researchers had minimal control over the population because they were already grouped and were taken as a whole. Their experiences were noted after the fact so there was no control over that on the part of the researchers. The choice of data collection was also conveniently predetermined by the nature of the desired information and the natural grouping of inmates. Data came from a self-report survey administered at entry into bootcamp and at graduation. The intent of the research was to determine the effectiveness of aftercare so merely reviewing existing data provided the desired information. Internal validity is supported because the results among the participants of each group were fairly consistent in their outcome relative to lower recidivism attributed to aftercare.

Strengths of this study lie in the longitudinal span of experiences over a two year period. and the fact that many assessment instruments were used to narrow the opportunity for any gaps. Likert Scales were used at the beginning and end of the program to ascertain its merits. Another survey was administered to determine program expectations of the participants, a Self-Control Scale based on Grasmick covered impulsivity, task orientation, risk-seeking, self-centered, temper, and physical activities (Kurlycheck, & Kempinen, 2006).  Additional scales that were used were Decision-Making scales and Treatment Motivation scales based on the Institute of Behavioral Research at the Texas Christian University (ibid, 2006).

The fact that there was lengthy follow up done on each of the groups added strength to the study. Also the fact that the researchers reviewed other similar studies indicates a reason for their research. “To date, however, relatively few empirical studies are designed to access the effects of aftercare initiatives” (ibid, 2006, p. 364). The research confirms the predicted outcome of using aftercare programs which is one of the requirements of quantitative research (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005).

The significant weakness that was not mentioned by the researchers was the absence of any reference to multicultural issues. There was no mention of ethnicity although there was an indication of an age range. The limitations noted by the authors were; that the study was from only one site, that multiple aftercare programs were attended, and the possibility of a time-specific effect because the group members did not all release or attend the aftercare at the same time. They did comment that in spite of the variety of aftercare programs there was a great similarity between them all and that no matter which program was used the impact was significant compared to those not receiving any aftercare.

Lattimore, P. K., (2007, April). The challenges of reentry, Corrections Today, 88-91.

            This is not an empirical article but may be considered a literature review because it does provide brief insight on the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) as well as a report by Steve Aos (2006) on what does and does not work in the reentry arena. This information is of considerable assistance when considering further research that focuses on the elderly ex-offender’s needs upon reentry because it provides the future researcher with guidance on how to proceed without duplicating any previous mistakes.

Lawrence, S., Mears, D. P., Dubin, G., & Travis, J., (2002, May). The practice and promise of prison programming, Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-28.

            This research report covers prison programming in seven different states. The sampling came from the data each state generated which would seem to make the report an investigation since the researchers had no control over the participant experiences. The data was already compiled the choice of collection instruments other than contacting each DOC was not in the hands of the researchers. There was a brief literature review of the meta-analyses performed by other researchers. A conceptual framework is used which according to the authors facilitates highlighting of complex program designs as well as placing the literature review in context. Because of the large span of data one can safely assume that it may be transferable to other states as well. The value of this article lies in the description of a repeatable process for future researchers.

Lurigio, A. J., Rollins, A., & Fallon, J., (2004, September). The effects of serious mental illness on offender reentry, Federal Probation, 68(2), 45-52.

            This is another conceptual article because the authors have reviewed research done by others to validate their belief that intense follow up, teamwork, and more investigation are needed if sufficient programming and services are going to be provided for the mentally ill offender. This same principle is true for the situation of the elderly ex-offender and the findings of these authors can be generalized to this cohort. That transferability of information is what gives strength to the report. There was no literature review but as with all articles the references provide a wealth of resources for the reader to pursue. The problem faced by mentally ill offenders as they reenter society was clearly stated and the information clearly correlated to the problem.

Paparozzi, M. A. & Gendreau, P., (2005, December). An intensive supervision program that worked: Service delivery, professional orientation, and organizational supportiveness, The Prison Journal, 85(4), 445-466.

            In support of labeling this study as quantitative the results from the study were expressed in numeric terms. Percents of success were illustrated in tables and formulas were used to distill the information that was gathered. This study comprehensively matched comparison groups which lend both internal and external validity to the research. The article focuses on the relationship between treatment services, the training and orientation of parole and probation officers, and the supportiveness of services in relation to recidivism. The question asked by these authors is; how best to effectively reduce recidivism through services and programming as well as supervision.

The degree of control the researchers had over methodological components was determined by the variations that occur when dealing with human beings. They selected specific populations based upon the three reasons for recidivism; technical parole violation, new conviction, and revocation. These three types of offenders were correlated to the three types of services they received; law enforcement, a balance of enforcement and services, and social casework (Paparozzi & Gendreau, 2005). Assignment to treatment conditions were compared to determine which type of service or combination thereof was most successful. The experiences of the participants told the story by the degree of recidivism displayed which is somewhat weak because there may be offences being committed without detection and therefore not recorded.

The probability sampling contained 240 parolees in an intensive surveillance supervision program (ISSP) and 240 parolees that were receiving traditional parole services. Three recidivism factors were used; technical parole violation, new convictions, and revocation. The data was collected from three types of professionals; those who were primarily focused on law enforcement, social workers, and those with a balance of the two perspectives. Random selection was not an option so the choice of data collection instrument was matched-sampling because the participants were either assigned to one type of programming or another. Because of the careful selection of participants for comparable qualities ensured validity of the study (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). Their criminogenic histories were similar and the programs and services through which they passed were the same therefore both internal and external validity was not compromised.

The approach of this article characterizes that of an investigation because previous activity was retrieved and examined. The type of research design used in this study is the retrieval of existing information collected by social services, law enforcement, and corrections programming. A manual review of the parolee records was the means of acquiring data. The sample size was sufficiently large to add strength to the study in addition to the checks and balances of separate raters of interview material. Variables of race, gender, age, family supportiveness, criminogenic history, education level, and substance abuse history were all taken into consideration which provided additional strength to the research. The results of this study validate the premise that aftercare is vital to the success of a parolee and therefore applies to the need for such care of the elderly ex-offender. The methodological features of the study as reported in the article were correlational since types of offenders were being compared to the types of services received and the resulting outcomes.    

The presence of a need has been established and there are services available for the elderly. Although the following programs and services are directed toward the elder client they fail to be sufficiently intense or long lasting for the benefit of an elderly ex-offender. Most of these services only work for those who have financial means or only temporary hard times. In addition, none of these services encompass the criminogenic aspects that the elderly ex-offender brings with them. Comments of participants in a study for ex-offenders with mental illness can be strongly related to the elderly ex-offender. It was noted that “. . . several of the participants vocalized the desire to have programs just for them. They explained that when they went to other community mental health programs for services they were usually ‘bumped’ or overlooked in favor of people who were not ex-cons” (Hatcher, 2007, p. 43).

Services available in most communities such as Senior Services, AARP, which provides minimal prescription assistance, motel discounts, and car insurance discounts, only serve those who are financially stable. They also provide free tax preparation but if an individual has no income the point is moot. Personal Emergency Response services are valuable but expensive as are assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care residences. Even Dial-a-Bus charges a fee for transportation; senior home care services and elder daycare are expensive and have a lengthy waiting list. Although serving the elderly population, these services accentuate the gap into which the elderly ex-offender falls because of financial disability.

2.                  Could multicultural issues influence the redesign of existing programs and that of new ones?

             The elderly ex-offender of any ethnicity or socioeconomic group is under represented because there is not yet an overwhelming amount of them returning to communities across the country. Their number is growing and will continue to do so for at least another decade (Georgia Department of Corrections, 2003). What demands attention is not necessarily their numbers but their plight as a result of their vulnerability which endangers the public as well as reflects community conscience.

The neighborhood into which an ex-offender is released has a significant impact on their ability to succeed. Often they are released into the community in which they were living prior to offending and that factor alone can be their downfall because they “. . . are crime ridden with poverty, joblessness, and residential instability, and offer residents few, if any, resources, services, and amenities” (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006, p. 166). How people of various ethnicities respond to assistance is another factor to be taken into consideration as well as the fact that by the nature of their ethnic background they may very well be reentering a poor neighborhood that will not be interested or able to help them succeed (LaVigne, Cowan, & Brazzell, 2006).

            Response to basic needs should be approached in ways that are acceptable to various cultural perspectives. The cultures that are more family oriented would perhaps be less open to support from non family sources and therefore any possible family connections should be maintained or strengthened. Culturally rooted pride or saving of “face” would be a barrier to accepting services and the program or service design should provide opportunity to maintain that necessary degree of dignity entitled to the individual being served.

3.      What are the ramifications of using the one-size-fits-all approach with the elderly ex-offender population?

La Vigne, N. G., Cowan, J., & Brazzel, D., (2006, November). Mapping prisoner reentry: An action research guidebook (2nd ed.), Washington, DC: Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-138.

            This comprehensive quantitative body of research covers the mapping of reentry in 12 metropolitan areas around the United States. In addition to gathering massive amounts of data it also offers detailed descriptions of how to replicate the process in other cities. The focus and intent of this project is to promote more collaboration between communities, corrections, and practitioners in the unified effort to create successful reentry programming and services. Data came from corrections databases and community corrections statistics. The sample was a probability sampling that consisted of those reentering a given metropolitan area which is diverse and inclusive thereby offering external validity because the results are repeatable when studying other comparable communities. The size of the study assures internal validity because it includes all ages and ethnicities as well as socioeconomic levels. The range over which the data was gathered, 1997 to 2006, added to the strength of the study. This research project provides considerable insight and instruction to the individual or community seeking ways to best address the needs of the reentering population that includes a broad range of cultures.

Abundant programs across the nation address the reentry of ex-offenders into America’s communities but only one focuses on the elderly. Project for Older Prisoners (POPS) was founded in 1989 and focuses primarily in advocating for early release of elderly prisoners who are no longer a threat to society because of their declining health (Aday, 2003).

The following reentry programs are mentioned either because of their success or proximity to the area in which the author lives. Their design lends itself to inclusion of the elderly ex-offender or the design of a similar program specifically for that cohort.

Delancey Street

            This is an innovative program that has spread from San Francisco across the country ranging from New Mexico, North Carolina, to New York. Each site is totally owned and operated by ex-offenders who remain in the program for at least 18 months but can stay as long as they are able to contribute to the program. Many skills are learned while residing in one of these facilities that will assure success upon reentry into mainstream society (Little, 1998).

CiviGenics

            The prime focus of this program is that of the substance abuser and changing criminal behavior patterns which does cover the elderly as well because age is not a factor in this instance (Community Education Centers, Inc., n.d.). The piece that is missing is the consideration that most elderly reentering the community will not be holding a job which presents a whole set of barriers that their younger counterparts do not face.

Home-For-Good

            This program involves many volunteers from the faith-based community but once again, no special considerations that address the needs of the elderly are mentioned (O’Conner, Cayton, Taylor, McKenna, & Monroe, 2004). This transitional service works statewide with county governments, corrections, community service providers, and faith-based entities in an effort to address the needs of those reentering the community from correctional facilities across the state of Oregon (O’Conner, et al., 2004). Although their focus is not specifically that of the elderly ex-offender the services could be expanded to include these individuals at a minimal cost.

Recommendations for Further Inquiry

Research on reentry is abundant but programming is dwindling due to shortage of funding (Petersilia, 2005, April). A couple of questions arise that must be answered; what will the Departments of Corrections embrace in the development of elder focused programming, and what is the cost involved in expanding existing programs?

Extensive specific research is recommended to correctly ascertain these answers. The actual needs of the elderly inmate population, the cost of adequately serving those needs, and determining the possibility of community support for fulfilling those needs all must be determined. There should be thoughtful coordination of various programs that meet the specific needs of each ex-offender (Lawrence, Mears, Dubin, & Travis, 2002). Since housing is the greatest challenge for ex-offenders logic indicates that this be one of the first issues to research and address (LaVigne, Cowan, & Brazzell, 2006). Speaking with parole officials and housing personnel would be advisable to determine what is available and what must be done to break down the barriers that typically face the ex-offender. Limited stay permission and overcrowding of shelters pose a real threat to the elderly who are less apt to survive the harsh elements if left homeless (Petersilia, 2005, April).

Methodological approaches used to examine issue

Data on who is homeless and why must be gathered to determine what portion of this population is elderly. Understanding how many elderly ex-offenders are released into an area over a specific time period would aid in understanding how best to address their needs. Once programs are created rigorous program evaluation must be part of the design in order to establish reliable baselines, and build evidence-based practices for future programming.

Fretz, R., (2005, April). Step down programs: The missing link in successful inmate reentry, Corrections Today, 102-107.

            This is a conceptual article because the author looks at step-down programs and success rates to determine what works best. As an assessment and research director for Community Education Centers, Dr. Fretz has access to large quantities of reentry data from which to choose when analyzing step-down programs. The transferability of this information is possible because of the broad nature of the data gathered. He has drawn on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports in addition to material gathered by other professionals in the field of corrections and reentry. For this reason the information is considered reliable and certainly is valuable to those looking to create reentry programs.

Henderson, M. L. & Hanley, D., (2006). Planning for quality: A strategy for reentry initiatives, Western Criminology Review, 7(2), 62-78.

 

The description of the setting for this qualitative study is a common thread throughout the entire article. The context of the article is based upon the previous and present operation of preparation of the offender for release. Although departments of corrections vary to a degree, their overall approach has been the same for several years which generates the discussion in this article. It is the premise of the authors that to date that insufficient attention has been paid to the planning and implementation of reentry programming and thus results are not all that they could be if approached in a different way.

Data for this article was gathered from the Urban Institute, National Institute of Justice, the American Correctional Association, and the Vera Institute of Justice.  These agencies generate huge amounts of statistics that are specific to the correctional arena across the country over many decades. This rich resource provides the reader with confidence in the foundation data used in the article. There are several tables present in this article but they do not particularly make the discussion more understandable. The same information is delivered in a narrative form with the same degree of success. Because the tables have column headings the tendency to seek related information across rows is futile. The column content under the first heading then has multiple pieces of information in succeeding columns across the table which gives the feeling that more items should have been listed in the first column.

The authors did not explicitly describe the techniques used, perhaps because there were not really any techniques used other than a comprehensive review of statistical evidence gathered by various agencies, nor was there a literature review. As the reader progresses through the article, they assume the technique to be that of collecting past data to support an assumption. This may not be considered a limitation because of the type of article it is.

Kubrin, C. E., & Stewart, E. A., (2006). Predicting who reoffends: The neglected role of neighborhood context in recidivism studies, Criminology, 44(1), 165-197.

The purpose and goal of this study was to determine “which individual-level factors influence rates of recidivism” and “to what extent does neighborhood socioeconomic status account for variation in the reoffending behavior of ex-prisoners” (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006,       p. 165). The source of information that was gathered came from a data sample of ex-offenders in Multnomah County, Oregon and the 2000 census.

The fit between intended purpose of the study and the methods chosen are evidenced by the large data base of the county census and ex-offenders. The audience being that of the Department of Corrections is familiar with quantitative research because it is what most of their action/function is based on. The impact of the neighborhood into which an ex-offender reenters upon their likelihood of recidivating is one of the problems addressed in this study. Another is the socioeconomic status and the individual criminogenic level of the ex-offender. Taking these factors into consideration it is accepted that the problem is narrowed down sufficiently and is clearly stated. The issues are sufficient to warrant research because most of the inmates returning to society reenter into questionable neighborhoods. The previous research has primarily addressed the criminogenic levels of those reentering society and not the neighborhoods into which they are moving.

There was no literature review present only a reference list. The references used were certainly relevant to the study. There is nothing forced about the theoretical framework of this study because of the obvious relationship between the quality of neighborhoods and the success of the ex-offenders who are returning to them. The correlation between either ex-offender success or their failure is stated as directly connected to the type of community into which they reenter.

The variables are the criminogenic level of the offender and the community characteristics. There could be confounding variables depending upon gender, ethnicity, age, and type of crimes committed. The hypothesis that quality of neighborhood had a definite impact on an ex-offender’s likelihood of recidivating is clearly stated. There is sufficient data from census and Department of Corrections statistics to support the research and it is clearly stated. The inability of poorer communities to provide the support that is needed for success because of financial deficit, community members that are sufficiently concerned and such things as job availability and housing are variables that are stated relative to the hypothesis of success or failure.

The sample size of 4,630 was sufficiently large and the method of selection was appropriate because it came from the statistics of how many inmates entered what census tracts of a specific county. Multilevel modeling was used because they recognized that people within neighborhoods will have more similarities than with those of other neighborhoods. Failure to recognize individual observations were suggested as a possible failing when coming to conclusions. The methods to collect data were logical and simple because the researchers used existing statistics from 2000.

The type of research design used was quantitative and the method was content analysis and historical in nature because the use of pre-existing data were reviewed to support the hypothesis. The design of the research seems appropriate in that neighborhood parameters were not identified by the researchers but by the census which precludes any bias on the part of the researchers. The external validity for this quantitative study can be extrapolated to other DOCs across the country because all are quite similar in makeup. From reviewing the tables in the class text it is assumed that were the same data sources used in any other state similar findings would likely result which point toward a need to change methods of preparing inmates for being successful ex-offenders (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005).

The internal validity of this study and the extent to which its cause-and-effect relationships between variables used infer that unless programmatic changes are made the research data will remain similar over years to come. The cause of scant neighborhood involvement in the lives of ex-offenders brings on the effect of greater recidivism than if they were more proactive in helping those released from correctional facilities. The neighborhood’s static nature has an impact upon the external validity of the fluctuating qualities of the human participants. The conclusion to this article made more sense than most of the article itself because it was in layman terms. The tables and figures were as incomprehensible as most of the article and were of no use to one who is not comfortable with statistics. One can only guess that the “statistical test” was the correct one for the type of research question.

There did not seem to be any indication that there was a difference between actual findings and interpretations. The researchers did mention previous research in that it had failed to pay attention to neighborhood context. They felt that their methods and findings could be generalized to other cities because of the similarity of other recidivism studies done across the country. There are several paragraphs devoted to the suggestions for further studies as a result of the findings of this study. They suggest replicating this study in other cities in order to corroborate their findings. They also suggest that further research be done with such things as social disorganization, family disruption, and racial-ethnic heterogeneity as the focus.

Lynch, J. P., (2006). Prisoner reentry: Beyond program evaluation, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 401-412.

            The author reviews the findings of authors and researchers such as Petersillia and primarily Kurlychek and Kempinen as he outlines the pitfalls of reentry research which presumably makes the article a literature review. His prime focus was the latter article and he points out that most research latches onto one specific facet of reentry and fails to take all the other myriad issues that impact the transitioning individual. “. . . complexities in evaluation research can cause one to focus too narrowly on the program without paying attention to what is known and what is at issue in basic research” (Lynch, 2006, p. 409). This admonition can serve future researchers well as they embark upon new investigations of reentry programming.

McBride, E. C., Visher, C., & LaVigne, (2005, April). Informing policy and practice: Prisoner reentry research at the Urban Institute, Corrections Today, 90-93.

            This article is a review of research done by the Urban Institute on reentry programming and the publications they have produced relating their findings. This would then be considered a conceptual article as well as a literature review since it covers both cases. The information provided validates the need to be mindful of specific needs of the transitioning population in an effort to be cost effective in meeting those needs. A perceived limitation of this article and its approach is that those who did the research are reviewing their own work.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Leech, N. L., (2005). On becoming a pragmatic researcher: The importance of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, Int. J. Social Research Methodology, 8(5), 375-387.

            This is an instructional article on the types of empirical research that falls into neither type of research because there was no data collected in preparation of this document. The value of the article lies in the information it provides the prospective researcher and is a supplement to the class text. The authors promote the concept of multi-method research because of the balance and comprehensiveness offered by utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methods. “Because pragmatic researchers utilize mixed methodologies within the same inquiry, they are able to delve further into a dataset to understand its meaning, and to use one method to verify findings from the other method” (Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2005, p. 384).

Smith, L. G. & Potter, R. H., (2006, December). Communicating evaluation findings from offender programs, Corrections Today, 98-99, & 101.

            This is a conceptual article in that the authors have reviewed some programs already in existence and related them to how program design should be implemented. They are pressing for evidence-based foundations for programs and rightly state that funding is more readily available for designs that are so founded. Their data collection method was from previous program records and therefore there was little or no control over the participants or their experiences. Any limitations coming from this brief article would be that the authors did not review a large number of programs to gather their data. In spite of this limit the advice is solid and a good guideline for those desiring to retool or create reentry programs.

Approach to Addressing the Gaps

Meta-Analysis was the method use to gather information for this paper and would continue to be part of the information gathering in preparation for filling the noted gaps in services. Strong reliance upon research done by agencies like the Urban Institute has added to the validity of the information gathered thus far. The institute devotes considerable time and effort to the evaluation of existing programs dealing with the reentry issue. Gathering information on existing programs and services was done to see if the needs of the elderly ex-offender could be addressed without much change to their focus or what additions could be made to encompass the specific needs of elderly ex-offenders.

All methods so research are appropriate for making educated decisions regarding program design. “Mono-method research is the biggest threat to the advancement of the social sciences” (Onwuegbuzie and Leech, 2005, p. 375). Not desiring to hamper the success of this endeavor one would want to employ both qualitative and quantitative research as well as informational literature.

Quantitative research would lend insight into the numbers of elderly ex-offenders in need of services and programs, success rates with and without services, homelessness rates of this cohort, and funding availability. This type of research helps provide the numbers to support the argument for attention to the special needs of elderly ex-offenders. Likert scale surveys would also indicate measurable levels of need as perceived by the elderly prior to and after reentry. The exact numbers of those in need of services can be determined. Follow up on the same participants over six-month intervals would also assist in accurately understanding how the programming and services are working and where changes were needed. The types of existing services and how they meet the perceived need could be discovered through gathering data from each program source. This would also provide a safety net for those who might fall through the cracks over time.

Most DOCs keep records of population statistics, needs of various population segments, criminogenic histories, and programs and therapy used to address these needs. Using these figures easily facilitates comparisons of these categories across the nation. Qualitative design will aid in fully understanding the perspective of the elderly ex-offenders regarding their needs upon reentry. This knowledge would assist in the determination of the types of services to provide and for how long. Itemizing the types of services available and their range of service could be done by reviewing yellow pages and other directories.

One perceived threat to the validity or credibility of this particular group of data would be its not being sufficiently extensive. Another possible threat to validity and credibility would come from the means of data collection use in each department and the length of time the data spans. Each department may also perceive terms such as programming and supervision in divergent ways. “In some state agencies, helping offenders complete necessary paperwork for obtaining social services in the community constitutes reentry programming . . .” (Henderson & Hanley, 2006, p. 64). Some disagreement continues on what age an offender is considered elderly which could also lend unreliability to the data.

            A merit of qualitative research provides insight into the subtle nuances of human perspective and emotions. These perceptions are important when determining the actual need for programming and supervision. The emotion around the quality or lack of services would be discovered. Usually interviews with open-ended questions are used to gather this information. Inmates, program staff, counselors, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, and public service providers all perceive the need differently and their input is vital to the development of comprehensive services. Interviews of elderly ex-offenders and service providers would expand upon the hard data of quantitative research. This additional information would aid in designing services or programs that truly fit the needs and therefore would be less likely to waste sparse funding.

            A threat to validity and credibility in this method of data gathering is the personal prejudices of those interviewed not to mention that people may tend to respond differently simply because they know they are being surveyed. Another shortcoming of this method is the time involved and as a result may not be as comprehensive as necessary for accurate information. The subjective nature of this data can keep it in flux indefinitely. Another possible threat of this type of research is obtaining too much useless information that would have to be sorted through and eliminated.

Summary of Key Findings

Finding 1 –  The current demand warrants expansion of present elder programs and services on the outside to encompass the needs of elderly ex-offenders.

Expanding programs or new design

In some instances there would be minimal additional expense for the expansion of assistance already provided to encompass the specific needs of an ex-offender. Typically, ex-offenders do not have sufficient money to meet their basic needs unless they have the support of family or friends. If they are too old to work then their challenges will remain with them for the remainder of their life. For this reason existing services must be expanded to account for that possibility if the likelihood of recidivism is to be mitigated. Comprehensive care for the mentally ill ex-offender already exists and similar services would do well in the care of the elderly ex-offender (Lurigio, Rollins, & Fallon, 2004).

To receive funding for alteration of a program or the development of a new one three conditions that the federal government suggests be taken into consideration are; protect and prepare the inmates and urge them to participate in programming during incarceration, after release there must be monitoring and supporting life-skills training, and lastly, support those who have gone through the programming and help them sustain success (Henderson & Hanley, 2006). For some the sustenance may be required throughout their remaining years. In addition to these three points of focus the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) asks that there be evidence-based practices for the reentry programs (Henderson & Hanley, 2006).

“Increased dollars have funded operating costs for more prisons, but not more rehabilitation programs” (Petersilia, 2001, n.p.). Possible ways to improve the chances for those reentering society for little or no additional expense are by attending to detail in orchestrating all the involved agencies (Paparozzi & Gendreau, 2005). This attendance to detail comes from solid evaluation processes of programs and services to determine if they are in fact, truly meeting the actual need. This attention to detail should include the mindfulness of the ethnicity of the individuals, the neighborhood into which they are releasing, and their support network on the outside.

 “Historically, when evaluation studies report reduced recidivism rates by participants of a program, the entire field is overhauled as it rushes the process of implementation, attempting to achieve a similar result” (Henderson & Hanley, 2006, p. 63). The rush for funding of programs often overshadows the planning and the consideration for “. . . how the program fits within the larger criminal justice system in their jurisdiction and without coordinating with community-based organizations” (Henderson & Hanley, 2006, p. 64). Rushing has traditionally been expensive and fruitless to a great extent. Mindful investigation of the specific needs of the elderly ex-offender population will accurately determine how to alter existing programs for the most service and least expense. The need will continue to grow as the baby-boomers continue to come of age as elderly and therefore it behooves communities to be proactive in their preparation for the coming flood of elderly ex-offenders in years to come.

Finding 2 - Multicultural issues influence the redesign of existing programs and that of new ones because various cultures respond differently to assistance.

The strategic management process is not a single event but a living and breathing entity that should be open for revision as data is gathered and new information is collected (Henderson & Hanley, 2006). This fact supports the contention that reentry is a fluid and mercurial process that continues to change based upon the type of ex-offender that is moving into society. The ethnicity of the individuals certainly would influence the types of aftercare support that is administered in order to accurately meet the needs of the individuals as well as fit appropriately with their cultural traditions. It would be unethical to ignore the beliefs and cultural influence of those being assisted. Ignoring these factors could possibly do more damage than good because if the help is not appropriate the clients will not accept it.

Finding 3 What are the ramifications of using the one-size-fits-all approach with the elderly ex-offender population?

            As stated before, the type of community into which an ex-offender is released has a significant impact upon their success on the outside (Hatcher, 2007  ). Typically the communities that receive the largest quantity of ex-offenders are the poorest and most crime ridden of all (Kubrin & Stewart, 2006). The reason behind this fact is that most inmates are released into the communities where they were living when they committed their crime. The general consensus appears to support this student’s hypothesis that a more tailored approach to reentry is likely to increase the opportunities for the elderly ex-offender to survive on the outside.

Conclusion

Collaboration

            Richard Seiter, who is a former corrections director states; “It is critically important in my mind that those outside of corrections and outside government in the corporate, religious, not-for-profit, academic, and media world come together to discuss our nation’s correctional policies” (Gibbons & Katzenbach, 2006). Community Corrections; Home-for-Good, CiviGenics, Boot Camps, Parole and Probation, half-way houses, and other short-term connections are programs that work with the offender about to reenter the community and the ones that are newly released. The obvious drawback is that these efforts are primarily directed toward the age group that will be reentering the job market and their limited duration of the programs. When dealing with a population whose needs will continue to increase lengthy support is required. In many cases there will be those who never are able to leave the supportive network of programs and services.

Faith-based communities

            Faith-based organizations play a significant part in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders in drug and alcohol programs (D’Amico, 2007). This same dedication could be extended to the elderly ex-offender who is in need of a network of people for support. Elderly inmates find greater comfort in spiritual ties than their younger counterparts and therefore would likely be more receptive to the connection with the religious community on the outside (Aday, 2003).  “Prayer, meditation and spiritual experiences have been found to have health benefits, producing a psychological and physical reaction that satisfies particular spiritual, physical and mental needs. These activities provide a sense of belonging and purpose for adults. . .” (D’Amico, 2007, p.82). Common knowledge testifies that helping those in need with the basic requirements of life moves them past the first stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and on toward higher levels of satisfaction. Faith-based organizations in New Jersey have assisted with such things as housing, transportation to parole offices, clothing, food, hair cuts, and medical and dental care to meet those needs (D’Amico, 2007). This kind of practical help can go a long way toward eliminating the hurdles faced by an elderly ex-offender and guaranteeing success.

 

 

Step-down programs

            The step-down program is outlined by D’Amico (2005) as follows. Risk and needs assessments should be administered upon entry into a correctional facility because it helps determine the programming and counseling that is required for each individual. The inmate moves to the step-down phase as they near release (around 16 months) and are provided instruction on how to adopt prosocial behavior and acquire coping skills. It is important for the participant to traverse the program in a secure and safe environment so there are no distractions and less likelihood of failure (Fretz, 2005).  This period is filled with role-play and tutoring for life experiences on the outside. Once in a halfway house the ex-offender is monitored closely and is in programs that fit their specific needs, such as drug and alcohol therapy, parenting training, or life-skills training. After leaving the halfway house phase the ex-offender is part of an alumni program that assists those beginning the step-down program. The mentoring from alumni is a strong link to success just as partners in such programs as Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an instance of a model of assistance that could be tailored to the specific needs of the elderly ex-offender with little or no additional expense. The progress of those involved in reentry programs must be monitored through every phase of the program to assure that the desired effect is taking place (Fretz, 2005). If the effect is not meeting expectations then there should be investigation as to why and corrections should be made as soon as possible in order to have a solid program that will merit sustainable funding.

There are various types of reentry programs in existence and they obviously have varying degrees of success. The merits of Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programs (ISSPs) are discussed by Paparozzi and Gendreau (2005) and they recommended that an adaptation of such programming be devised to address the needs of the elderly ex-offender. These types of programs offer greater support and more closely match the requirements of the elderly ex-offender. Fully understanding the types of inmates and their needs, as well as what their risks and barriers are is vital to developing programs and services that will accurately meet their needs (Petersilia, 2005, April).

Evaluation Processes

“While correctional agencies engage in cursory level strategic planning efforts for new initiatives, frequently they fail to incorporate an assessment for organizational operations and sustainability as part of the process (Henderson & Hanley, 2006, p. 62). Clear suggestions are offered by Smith & Potter, (2006) for the successful building of evidence-based practices from the planning stage of a program to the release of evaluation information. In the process of creating new programs for the elderly ex-offender or to the retooling of existing programs for the elderly these steps should be taken into consideration. Open communication between designer, program staff, administration, evaluators, and stakeholders is imperative for the sustainability of any program.

The Malcolm Baldrige Strategic Planning Criteria for Performance Excellence (CPE) is a methodical guide to successful program planning (Henderson & Hanley, 2006). See Figure 1 above as an illustration of how it works.

Mapping Technique

            Regarding the specific needs of the elderly in relation to the neighborhoods into which they will be releasing will affect the degree of success achieved by the ex-offender (Hatcher, 2007). “Concept mapping is also a particularly suitable method for structuring a discussion of a diffuse concept, such as successful reintegration. . .” (Hatcher, 2007). The idea behind mapping release of offenders assists in determining where the services are most needed and the specific challenges that a given area may present (LaVigne, Cowan, Brazzell, 2006).

            Before any effective work can begin community connections must be developed. Parole and probation, corrections, and other service agencies need to be actively involved in community events to raise awareness of what they do and want to do (Evans, 2006). “No matter how innovative or unique the program efforts, if it is not made visible to the community, it will not result in the service being valued or supported” (Evans, 2006, p. 90). The need to educate the public is becoming a common observation of those in the correctional arena. For successful collaboration to occur the average citizen needs to have ready access to those in the field and have accurate information that is not driven by sensationalism (Gibbons & Katzenbach, 2006).

Expansion of existing services

            Most programs end prior to the end of the need. Many ex-offenders will need continuing close observation and care until their demise. If this type of provision is not supplied then the rate of recidivism will remain the same because the individuals will be driven to crime in order to meet their basic needs and the quantity of homelessness will either remain the same or will increase. Many services already supplied to the mentally ill ex-offender would serve the elderly ex-offender as well by the nature of their design and longitudinal focus (Lurigio, Rollins, & Fallon, 2004).

New design

            The money spent to house an elderly inmate can reach $70,000 per year depending upon their needs (Aday, 2003). This money could be better spent to fund new programs that would provide the close observation and intense aftercare that is needed for success on the outside. Gated communities that are only for the elderly ex-offender would provide a safe and structured environment that would benefit the residents and enhance the safety of the surrounding neighborhoods. In many cases decarceration would be a better answer to the problem which would provide funds for improving chances of success once released into society (Austin, Clear, Duster, Greenberg, Irwin, McCoy, Mobley, Owen, & Page, 2007).

Personal Observation/Research

Over the past four years the author of this paper has come to recognize gaps in service for the elderly ex-offender and has begun to formulate a plan to address that deficit in services. A few programs are in existence across the country that are recognizing more support is needed for some reentering the community and such places as Delancey Street are proving successful (Little, 1998). In spite of the merit of such communities they fall short of helping those unable to return to the workforce, primarily the elderly. Similar communities with additional services could address the needs of this older population. Onsite medical care, parole and probation offices, elder specific activities, and mental health professionals would promote the success of the older ex-offender who has less mobility and is experiencing greater challenges than their younger counterparts.

Another piece of the reentry puzzle is how to address specific needs of each individual being released. The use of mapping can aid in resolving that because it takes many factors into consideration over and above the criminogenic history of the inmate. This technique has been applied to the exiting mentally ill and would transfer to the elderly population quite nicely. The approach is to inquire of the inmates what they feel they need to succeed once they are on the outside and focus on meeting those needs (Hatcher, 2007). Not all ex-offenders have the same needs nor are they all reentering the same type of community which has a significant impact upon their likelihood of success.

Through over four years of unrelenting research of literature and websites on the topic of reentry programming for the elderly ex-offender a belief has emerged indicating an obvious gap between what is offered and what is perceived by this student as a significant need. Many authors and researchers make viable suggestions for aiding those who are transitioning into America’s communities and the predominant consensus is that post-release services be provided to a greater extent (Austin, Clear, Suster, Greenberg, Irwin, McCoy, Mobley, Owen, & Page, 2007). Many suggestions are given for various program designs but almost all fail to include the elderly population.

            In the near future this student hopes to begin specific research to determine just what services are needed, what is estimated to cost for the provision of these services, and how best to implement sustainable programs. This is not a linear investigation that lies ahead because of all the sub-connections to the issue. Community education regarding the plight of the elderly ex-offender must be provided. The willingness of communities to ban together to develop and sustain programs and services for this population must be determined. Funding sources must be located and acquired, committed volunteers brought on board and trained, and locations from which to offer services must be secured. The collaboration of DOC, Community Corrections, Faith-Based organizations, social service agencies, law enforcement, and many other entities must be orchestrated.

            Research departments that are already in existence, hopefully, will aid in this massive information gathering process such as the one for the DOC and those for other state agencies. Data may already exist that may help simplify the entire process. In essence this endeavor will be a lifelong commitment on the part of this student in the hopes of leaving some tangible legacy for the elderly ex-offenders of Oregon.


Reference List

Aday, R. H. (2003). Aging prisoners: Crisis in American corrections, Westport, CT: Praeger.

 

Austin, J., Clear, T., Duster, T., Greenberg, D. F., Irwin, J., McCoy, C., Mobley, A., Owen, B., & Page, J., (2007, November). Unlocking America: Why and how to reduce America’s prison population, Washington, DC: The JFA Institute.

 

Community Education Centers, Inc. (n.d.). Breaking the cycle of recidivism, Retrieved March 7, 2008, from http://www.cecintl.com

 

D’Amico, J., (2007, December). Ask and you will receive: Creating faith-based programs for former inmates, Corrections Today, 78, 79, & 82.

 

Dhami, M. K., Mandel, D. R., Loewenstein, G., & Aytonl, P., (2006). Prisoners’ positive illusions of their post-release success, Law Hum Behav, 30, 631-647.

 

Evans, D. G., (2005, June). New ideas and evidence-based practices: The case for inmate reentry, Corrections Today, 28-29.

 

Evans, D. G., (2006, December). Community-focused parole, Corrections Today, 90-91.

 

Fretz, R., (2005, April). Step down programs: The missing link in successful inmate reentry, Corrections Today, 102-107.

 

Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC), (2003). Georgia’s aging inmate population, Retrieved February 4, 2007 from http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/reports/agingpopulation.html

 

Gibbons, J. J., & Katzenbach, N. B., (2006, June). Confronting confinement, The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, Vera Institute of Justice, 95-97.

 

Hatcher, S. S., (2007, Summer). Transitional care for offenders with mental illness in jail: Mapping indicators of successful community reentry, Best Practices in Mental Health, 3(2), 38-51.

 

Henderson, M. L. & Hanley, D., (2006). Planning for quality: A strategy for reentry initiatives, Western Criminology Review, 7(2), 62-78.

 

Kubrin, C. E., & Stewart, E. A., (2006). Predicting who reoffends: The neglected role of neighborhood context in recidivism studies, Criminology, 44(1), 165-197.

 

Kurlychek, M. & Kempinen, C., (2006). Beyond boot camp: The impact of aftercare on offender reentry, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 363-388.

 

Lattimore, P. K., (2007, April). The challenges of reentry, Corrections Today, 88-91.

 

La Vigne, N. G., Cowan, J., & Brazzel, D., (2006, November). Mapping prisoner reentry: An action research guidebook (2nd ed.), Washington, DC: Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-138.

 

Lawrence, S., Mears, D. P., Dubin, G., & Travis, J., (2002, May). The practice and promise of prison programming, Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-28.

 

Leedy, P. D. & Ormrod, J. E., (2005). Survey of research methodology for human services learners, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

 

Little, J. B. (1998). A family style seems to work, even for hardened criminals, San Francisco, CA: Delancey Street Foundation.

 

Lurigio, A. J., Rollins, A., & Fallon, J., (2004, September). The effects of serious mental illness on offender reentry, Federal Probation, 68(2), 45-52.

 

Lynch, J. P., (2006). Prisoner reentry: Beyond program evaluation, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 401-412.

 

McBride, E. C., Visher, C., & LaVigne, (2005, April). Informing policy and practice: Prisoner reentry research at the Urban Institute, Corrections Today, 90-93.

 

O’Connor, T. P., Cayton, T., Taylor, S., McKenna, N., & Monroe, N. (2004, October). Home for good in Oregon, Corrections Today, 72-77.

 

Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Leech, N. L., (2005). On becoming a pragmatic researcher: The importance of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, Int. J. Social Research Methodology, 8(5), 375-387.

 

Paparozzi, M. A. & Gendreau, P., (2005, December). An intensive supervision program that worked: Service delivery, professional orientation, and organizational supportiveness, The Prison Journal, 85(4), 445-466.

 

Petersillia, J., (2001, June). When prisoners return to communities: Political, economic, and social consequences, Federal Probation, 65(1), n.p.

 

Petersillia, J., (2005, April). Hard time: Ex-offenders returning home after prison, Corrections Today, 66-71, & 155.

 

Smith, L. G. & Potter, R. H., (2006, December). Communicating evaluation findings from offender programs, Corrections Today, 98-99, & 101.

 

Williams, J. L., (2006, December). The aging inmate population, Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, 1-36.

 

Yates, J. & Gillespie, W., (2000). The elderly and prison policy, Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 11(2/3), 167-175.


Appendix A

Annotated Bibliography

Core Text

 

Leedy, P. D. & Ormrod, J. E., (2005). Survey of research methodology for human services learners, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

            The content of this volume provides the basic information necessary to successfully discuss research. It provides the difference between qualitative and quantitative research and the various methods used to gather data. Step by step instructions for conducting research are given which includes the writing of proposals, the ethical imperatives, and how to interpret the data once it is gathered.

 

Books

 

Aday, R. H. (2003). Aging prisoners: Crisis in American corrections, Westport, CT: Praeger.

            Ronald Aday is the leading researcher of the elderly in the corrections system. This book is the bible for anyone wanting comprehensive and authoritative information on the topic.

 

Journal Articles

 

Austin, J., Clear, T., Duster, T., Greenberg, D. F., Irwin, J., McCoy, C., Mobley, A., Owen, B., & Page, J., (2007, November). Unlocking America: Why and how to reduce America’s prison population, Washington, DC: The JFA Institute.

            This study delves into the effectiveness of lengthy sentences and more stringent judicial action. The evidence is not proving the recent tightening of arrest and sentencing standards to be effective in lessening the amount of criminal actions. The authors look to a future where sentences will more aptly fit the severity of the crime.

 

D’Amico, J., (2007, December). Ask and you will receive: Creating faith-based programs for former inmates, Corrections Today, 78, 79, & 82.

            Although this is not a peer reviewed article it assists in providing the flavor of the corrections arena. Much assistance has been and will continue to be provided by the faith-based community when it comes to the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. The barriers faced by inmates as they move back into society are discussed and the role of faith community members have in breaking down those obstacles to ensure success on the part of the ex-offender and their families. 

 

Dhami, M. K., Mandel, D. R., Loewenstein, G., & Aytonl, P., (2006). Prisoners’ positive illusions of their post-release success, Law Hum Behav, 30, 631-647.

            This study compares the levels of anticipated success upon release from prison in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK). It indicates that the perceived success is not equal to actual scenarios upon release. This disparity is predicted by pre-prison and in-prison life events yet the researchers are convinced that more research is required. Crime types and programming have impacts on these post prison outcomes.

 

Evans, D. G., (2005, June). New ideas and evidence-based practices: The case for inmate reentry, Corrections Today, 28-29.

            This brief article reports that fewer and fewer services are available for those reentering communities and that more than the cognitive aspect of programming is needed to promote successful reentry. It is suggested that the practical aspects of reentry be addressed as well such as housing, jobs, and the other vital needs of life.

 

Evans, D. G., (2006, December). Community-focused parole, Corrections Today, 90-91.

            The strength of community involvement in the reentry process is vital to ex-offender successes. Effective reentry work is enhanced by greater collaboration of corrections, parole and probation, and community services.

 

Fretz, R., (2005, April). Step down programs: The missing link in successful inmate reentry, Corrections Today, 102-107.

            According to this article there are four steps to successful reentry and the first step is while the offender is still in prison. The offender would then move to a secure environment that provides cognitive treatment and other programs that ease them into the life they will experience once released. The third phase would be a continuation of care on the outside with frequent evaluations. Phase four occurs after completion of the program and evolution into the status of alumni mentor status in the program helping others who are coming through the program.

 

Gibbons, J. J., & Katzenbach, N. B., (2006, June). Confronting confinement, The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, Vera Institute of Justice, 95-97.

            The urgent need for an accurately informed public regarding the truth about corrections is discussed in this article. Changes of conditions and correctional methods must be funded and it is the taxpayer that holds the purse strings. The future of corrections lies in communities understanding the reality of a carcereal environment and not the movie version.

 

Hatcher, S. S., (2007, Summer). Transitional care for offenders with mental illness in jail: Mapping indicators of successful community reentry, Best Practices in Mental Health, 3(2), 38-51.

            This article discusses mapping the reentry of inmates with mental health problems. The reality that success for the ex-offender can come from programming that is needs driven is the essence of mapping. The creation of client-centered services brings greater success for those using the services.

 

Henderson, M. L. & Hanley, D., (2006). Planning for quality: A strategy for reentry initiatives, Western Criminology Review, 7(2), 62-78.

            The authors of this article express the need for corrections to consider the long-term of reentry programming. Their concern is the current failing of sustainability of programs and the obvious need for steady continuance of reentry programs and services. They propose the use of the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence model to reinvigorate current programs and build new ones. This model states seven criteria for effective programming and provides instruction regarding the use of this model.

 

Kubrin, C. E., & Stewart, E. A., (2006). Predicting who reoffends: The neglected role of neighborhood context in recidivism studies, Criminology, 44(1), 165-197.

            The location of reentry has a significant impact on whether the ex-offender is apt to recidivate. This factor has typically been ignored by correctional entities and, according to these authors, must now be taken into consideration if success is to be elevated. The primary basis for determining likelihood or recidivation has been based upon individual-level characteristics and completely ignoring the dynamic of the environment into which the ex-offender is released.

 

Kurlychek, M. & Kempinen, C., (2006). Beyond boot camp: The impact of aftercare on offender reentry, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 363-388.

            The importance of after care is stressed in this article. The contrast between close supervision environments and the freedom of environment after release is too great a difference for the ex-offender to adjust to. Steady and accessible support after release is required to lessen the recidivism rate. A continuum of care must be in place to assist this population in acclimation to the community.

 

Lattimore, P. K., (2007, April). The challenges of reentry, Corrections Today, 88-91.

            Lattimore points out that the very deficiencies identified in the average criminal are the very failings that ensure their likelihood to recidivate upon reentry. These deficits must be taken into consideration when providing services for this population. She also maintains that the statistics provided to illustrate success of programs is biased and give erroneous perspectives.

 

La Vigne, N. G., Cowan, J., & Brazzel, D., (2006, November). Mapping prisoner reentry: An action research guidebook (2nd ed.), Washington, DC: Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-138.

            This comprehensive document guides the reader through the implementation of successful programs by developing a map to follow. A map not only provides a guide for progression along the development path but aids in convincing potential partners that it is a viable and necessary project. Mapping is very comprehensive and covers demographics of the area of release, ex-offender traits, services in the area, stakeholders, and a variety of other factors that will impact the success of the program and those passing through it.

 

Lawrence, S., Mears, D. P., Dubin, G., & Travis, J., (2002, May). The practice and promise of prison programming, Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, 1-28.

            The focus of this article is that of employment and education and their impact on the success of the ex-offender upon release. Education levels of the average inmate are well below that of the general population outside the carcereal environment. Their typical work skills are also lacking what is necessary to acquire gainful employment on the outside. Because of funding issues prison programming focused on these deficiencies has declined radically and is posing a problem as ex-offenders move into communities.

 

Little, J. B. (1998). A family style seems to work, even for hardened criminals, San Francisco, CA: Delancey Street Foundation.

            This program is a glowing example of what can be accomplished through vision and commitment. A similar type of program could easily be adapted to the elderly ex-offender and would lessen the financial strain on Departments of Corrections across the country.

 

Lurigio, A. J., Rollins, A., & Fallon, J., (2004, September). The effects of serious mental illness on offender reentry, Federal Probation, 68(2), 45-52.

            The challenges of the seriously mentally ill inmate present an additional stress on services once they are released into communities and sporadic support only exacerbates the tendency to recidivate. The mental health of an ex-offender will often determine their not meeting parole requirements. These violations will send them back into the correctional system when sufficient monitoring on the outside could prevent this type of recidivism.

 

Lynch, J. P., (2006). Prisoner reentry: Beyond program evaluation, Criminology & Public Policy, 5(2), 401-412.

            Lynch discusses the subtlety of nomenclature where recidivism, reentry, re-integration, and transition are concerned. The names are created for funding and yet beneath the title lie myriad human and social dynamics that must be taken into consideration in the provision of assistance. These subtleties often bar good statistical reports and thus leave the illusion of failure.

 

McBride, E. C., Visher, C., & LaVigne, (2005, April). Informing policy and practice: Prisoner reentry research at the Urban Institute, Corrections Today, 90-93.

            This article briefly reviews the path of the Urban Institute in its effort to improve the reentry process. It lists the various extensive studies done across various departments of corrections and the changes in focus as the movement goes forward.

 

O’Connor, T. P., Cayton, T., Taylor, S., McKenna, N., & Monroe, N. (2004, October). Home for good in Oregon, Corrections Today, 72-77.

The Home for Good transitional program is one that is currently being used by the transitional services division of Oregon Department of Corrections. This program recognizes the validity of faith-based reentry partnerships for the enhancement of success for the ex-offender. In prison programming links to the community through volunteers and community organizations that are there for the ex-offender when he/she returns to the community

 

Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Leech, N. L., (2005). On becoming a pragmatic researcher: The importance of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, Int. J. Social Research Methodology, 8(5), 375-387.

            This article promotes the understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research and how each has significant merits. These authors maintain that the polarization of views has harmed the research process and urge researchers to utilize both methods for a more comprehensive body of data.

 

Paparozzi, M. A. & Gendreau, P., (2005, December). An intensive supervision program that worked: Service delivery, professional orientation, and organizational supportiveness, The Prison Journal, 85(4), 445-466.

            The merit of Intense Surveillance and Supervision Programs (ISSP) is discussed as opposed to the less intense Traditional Parole Supervision (TPS) programs. The active involvement of Parole Officers in the treatment and programming of ex-offenders had a more positive affect upon the program results of the ISSP as opposed to the supervision only approach of TPS programs.

 

Petersillia, J., (2001, June). When prisoners return to communities: Political, economic, and social consequences, Federal Probation, 65(1), n.p.

            The author points to the general desire of the average ex-offender to succeed and the morally unethical action of not providing sufficient programming to reward that desire. Rising caseload numbers for the Parole and Probation Officer also contributes to those on the caseload reoffending. She also points to the needs of the ex-offender going unaddressed as another significant factor in the reoffending activity.

 

Petersillia, J., (2005, April). Hard time: Ex-offenders returning home after prison, Corrections Today, 66-71, & 155.

            Petersillia discusses the social and medical problems of ex-offenders in addition to substance abuse issues. She maintains that funding dollars have gone to staffing and building of new prisons instead of programming to address the needs of the offenders in preparation for release. Without a concerted effort to address the various barriers faced by those stepping back into the community the rate of recidivism will not decline but will rise.

 

Smith, L. G. & Potter, R. H., (2006, December). Communicating evaluation findings from offender programs, Corrections Today, 98-99, & 101.

            This article discusses the merit and need for evidence-based programming. Funding dries up without solid proof of success coming from; appropriate data collection and evidence showing that the theory behind the program was accurate and was met appropriately. The utilization-focused evaluation tool can assist stakeholders in determining whether or not to cut or expand any given program.

 

Williams, J. L., (2006, December). The aging inmate population, Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, 1-36.

            This report is a collection of data from a number of states and their incarcerated elderly population. The impact of this growing population upon departments of corrections is outlined in this document. The ways various states are dealing with this issue vary but the overall consensus is that it is an issue that cannot be ignored because the baby boomer population is coming of age inside and out of prison.

 

Yates, J. & Gillespie, W., (2000). The elderly and prison policy, Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 11(2/3), 167-175.

            The reasons behind the growing elderly inmate population are discussed in regards to the general aging of the American population and the results of more stringent sentencing. The cost of care for the elderly incarcerated is estimated to be three times the expense related to caring for a young healthy inmate. Innovative programming and specialty facilities are discussed as options for dealing with the challenge of caring for elderly inmates.

 

Websites

 

Community Education Centers, Inc. (n.d.). Breaking the cycle of recidivism, Retrieved March 7, 2008, from http://www.cecintl.com

This website outlines the various programs and techniques used in the rehabilitation of offenders just prior to their release into the community. The design lends itself to the specific care of elderly offenders and could easily be adapted to the needs of that population.

 

Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC), (2003). Georgia’s aging inmate population, Retrieved February 4, 2007 from http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/reports/agingpopulation.html

            This report reviews the aging population of one state’s inmates. The reasons for the growth of this population are illustrated by many charts and graphs. The medical challenges faced by an elderly inmate is also discussed which increases the expense of housing these offenders.

 

            .

 

 

Elderly Prisoners and Ex-Offenders

•July 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The purpose of this blog is to find other like minded individuals who have a concern about how to best serve community and reentering ex-offenders that are not employable and most likely to be homeless because of diminishing family and friend connections.

 
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