Inmate Furlough and Beyond—A Question of Punishment or Rehabilitation

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Mengbei Wang, University of New Haven

In recent years, prison overcrowding has become a highly visible issue in the field of criminal justice.  Although the costs of imprisoning offenders are high, the majority view in American society is that greater incarceration protects the public.  In reality, however, most criminals cannot be locked up in prison forever.  Every year, a large number of individuals finish serving their time and are released to the community; more than half of these released prisoners return to prison (Alahdadi, 2016).  Inmates experience difficulties in re-entering the community and are more likely to engage in criminal activities, resulting in a return to prison.  All of these problems (prison overcrowding, failures of the prison system, and the associated high costs) result in a great interest in finding alternatives to incarceration.  Policymakers, therefore, realize they should pay greater attention to a wide range of remedies by which to reduce crime, instead of relying exclusively on incarceration. 

Temporary release for prisoners has become one of the pathways to eventual prisoner reintegration and is becoming more popular in the political arena.  The provision of prisoner “furloughs” consists of an authorized temporary release from prison, allowing incarcerated individuals to readjust gradually to life on the outside.  Empirical studies on prison furlough programs initially yielded positive results (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1974; LeClair, 1978; LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991; Turner & Petersilia, 1996; Visher &Travis, 2003; Cheliotis, 2008; Cheliotis, 2009, Bales et al., 2015).  Furlough programs have both advantages and disadvantages, however.  After the Willie Horton incident in 1988, such studies and programs faded away.  This paper discusses the pros and cons of furlough programs, comparing and contrasting them to similar programs in China.  The aim is to make policy recommendations that attract policymakers’ attention and to realize a successful future for furlough programs.

Statement of the Issue/Problem

From the 1940s onward, public officials and policymakers at all levels of government (federal, state, local) have felt public pressure to change judicial operations, policing, and many sectors of criminal prosecution—from the courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors, to criminal justice policy and legislation (Mays & Ruddell, 2015).  These changes sought to enhance the government’s capacity to pursue and punish lawbreakers.  Beginning in the 1970s, there was an escalation of sanctions for a wide range of crimes.  Furthermore, the management of criminal justice became a constant rather than intermittent issue in U.S. politics.  Although the costs of imprisoning offenders were high, the majority view was that greater incarceration would protect the public.  Citizens believed that criminals were too dangerous to remain in the community and deserved to be locked up.  Mass incarceration was an inevitable consequence of this transformation (Mays & Ruddell, 2015). 

In recent years, prison overcrowding has become a prominent issue in the filed of criminal justice.  Prison overcrowding from mass incarceration raises the question of whether incarceration actually reduces crime and recidivism.  One of the major debates generated by modern developments was whether punishment was more effective than rehabilitation in reducing criminal activity.  Previous studies indicated that prison produced a slight increase in recidivism, and that there was a tendency for lower-risk offenders to be negatively affected by the prison experience (Gendreau, Goggin, & Cullen 1999).  Statistical studies indicated that the majority of inmates experienced difficulties in reentering the community and were more likely to engage in criminal activities, resulting in a return to prison (Alahdadi, 2016).  All of these issues resulted in a great interest in finding alternatives to incarceration.  Policymakers, therefore, realized they should pay attention to a wide range of remedies by which to reduce crime, instead of relying exclusively on incarceration.  Although designated recommendations differ, the overall thrust of recent policy proposals is essentially focused on less expensive, more productive, and more effective remedies by which to have prisoners reenter the community.  Inmate furlough is one attempt to achieve those goals in the U.S. correctional system. 

 

Historical Background

 

Imprisonment is one of the most common management tools by which justice systems manage criminality; the United State prison system was established as means of meting out punishment to lawbreakers/criminal offenders (Seiter & Kadela, 2003).  The practice of imprisonment has undergone many changes and has triggered reforms throughout history.  From the 1800s to 1900s, prison systems focused exclusively on offender punishment; prisoners served a set amount of time with little or no emphasis on rehabilitation or preparation for societal re-entry (Seiter & Kadela, 2003; Visher & Travis, 2003).  With the growing concern over ineffective correctional incarceration, along with human development and changes in society, modern prisons have shifted from focusing on punishment to achieving inmate rehabilitation.  

 

Every year, more than 688,000 individuals finish serving their time, and approximately 7 in 10 will return to criminal activities and will be rearrested (Visher & Travis, 2003; Wagner & Sakala, 2014).  As a consequence, more than a half of the released prisoners return to prison.  Obviously, an individual’s transition from prison to the community is not easy, and the need for developing a transition process has become urgent (Visher & Travis, 2003).  Temporary release for prisoners has become one of the pathways to reintegration and is becoming popular in the political arena.  

The provision of prisoner “furloughs” consists of an authorized temporary release from prison, which allows incarcerated individuals to gradually readjust to life on the outside.  Furloughs generally are granted near the end of incarceration or close to the time when inmates can be released on parole (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1975; Seiter & Kadela, 2003; Visher & Travis, 2003).  Inmates can be furloughed for variety of reasons, depending on the jurisdiction.  There are two primary types of furloughs—home furlough and work furlough (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1975; Seiter & Kadela, 2003; Visher & Travis, 2003).  Home furlough permits the inmate to leave the correctional facility and stay at home for a short period of time.  It can be granted on a case-by-case basis, and the correctional institution will decide whether the inmate should be supervised when released to the community.  The second type of furlough allows inmates to seek and maintain employment in the community.  Inmates also can be allowed to go to school or participate in treatment programs. 

Furloughs are used for a variety of reasons, especially rehabilitation.  Correctional administrators grant furloughs to help prisoners get ready to reintegrate into the community (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1975; Seiter & Kadela, 2003; Visher & Travis, 2003; Cheliotis, 2008; Cheliotis, 2009; Alahdadi, 2016).  Home furloughs enable inmates to maintain or strengthen ties with family members in a non-custodial environment (Cheliotis, 2009).  In cases of work furloughs, inmates may make money and contribute to the welfare of their dependents, maintain their work skills, and enhance their post-release employment prospects.  Aside from rehabilitation, correctional facilities may use furloughs as a tool to reduce prison overcrowding and associated costs (Cheliotis, 2009; Bales et al., 2015).  The next question to address is whether furlough programs at both the state and federal levels really work. 

Empirical Studies on Home Furloughs

A large body of research has analyzed the rehabilitative effectiveness of home furlough programs by comparing the treatment group (offenders who participated in home furlough program) to the control group (offenders who did not participate in the home furlough program) in terms of the impact on recidivism rates (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991; Cheliotis, 2009).  Overall, empirical research on home furloughs has found positive evidence of reduction in recidivism rates (LeClair, 1978; LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991; Visher &Travis, 2003; Cheliotis, 2008; Cheliotis, 2009).  A study conducted by correctional institutions in Massachusetts, for example, indicated that inmates who experienced at least one home furlough while they were in prison were less likely to engage in criminal activities than inmates who were never granted a home furlough (LeClair, 1978).  Furthermore, federal inmates who experienced at least one home furlough were less likely to recidivate than those who never received a home furlough (Harer, 1994; Cheliotis, 2009). 

Theoretical support for the home furlough exists in Laub and Sampson’s (2003) life-course theory in conjunction with Hirschi’s (1969) social bond theory.  Laub and Sampson  (2003) emphasized that salient life events and an individual’s interaction with family and social bonds play a significant role in refraining from criminal activities.  Strong bonds through direct or indirect social control reduce individual criminal activities (Hirshi, 1969).  The home furlough program brings the possibility of social contact for those who have been confined in prison for a long time, and enhances the connection between inmates and their loved ones.  How the family influences different stages of an inmate’s life and encourages them to successfully transit from prison to community is a question for further research investigation. 

Home furloughs are not just an American phenomenon.  They also play an important role in other countries.  In China in the 1980s, for example, home furlough programs became popular for encouraging inmate rehabilitation (sources from http://society.people.com.cn). With the enactment of the 1994 Prison Law of the People’s Republic of China, the home furlough program gained state approval and was wildly practiced throughout the country (sources from http://chuansong.me/n/2223805945718).  Under this home furlough program, inmates regain personal social ties that are rarely, if ever, available in the prison setting.  Family ties encourage criminal self-reform and further prepare inmates for reintegration into the society (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991).  In addition, given the reality that those newly released offenders usually are unprepared for a new life outside of prison, they need time to find a place to live or seek a new job.  Meanwhile, they most likely need to stay with their family members until they rebuild their new lives successfully.  Family support, therefore, becomes an essential component in helping criminals desist from crime (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991; Visher & Travis, 2003).  

Chinese Spring Festival, also known as Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important annual event for Chinese people (sources from https://www.travelchinaguide.com).  Family reunions are one of the essential components of the celebration.  For the inmates who are behind bars, the desire for family reunion is strong but distant (sources from https://www.travelchinaguide.com).  When inmates get a chance to be released on a home furlough for the Spring Festival, they relish the opportunity (sources from http://chuansong.me/n/2223805945718).  In 2018, a total of 999 inmates from 311 prisons located in 27 provinces were granted supervised home furloughs for the Chinese Spring Festival (Shao, 2018; sources from http://chuansong.me/n/2223805945718).  Every inmate returned to prison on time.  Interviews of these inmates indicated that the majority of the home furloughees were grateful, supported by their family members, and were able to develop a more positive attitude toward their rehabilitation (An & Zhu, 2018). 

A positive experience enhances an inmate’s desire to reintegrate into the community and to better themselves.  Family contacts play a significant role in re-shaping an individual’s dignity, and should eventually lead them to a better life (An & Zhu, 2018).  Recent studies have determined that strong family ties/bonds appear to have a positive impact upon inmate post-release performance, because inmates tend to value these experiences over others (Cheliotis, 2006; Shao, 2018; An & Zhu, 2018). 

Empirical Studies on Work Furlough

A work furlough is another community transition program that permits inmates to re-inter the community for a limited amount of time during the day and return to the prison at night (McNeil, 2009; Bales et al., 2015).  The work furlough program is the foundation of re-integration because it endows an inmate with a transitional status.  Previous research established a generally positive result for work furlough programs worldwide (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1974; LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991; Turner & Petersilia, 1996; Cheliotis, 2009; Bales et al., 2015).  Jeffery and Woolpert (1974) conducted a longitudinal study and examined a work furlough program and an inmate’s post-release outcome in San Mateo County, California.  The results indicated that inmates who participate in a work furlough have a lesser likelihood of recidivism during a four-year post-release period.  Moreover, inmates who maintained or strengthened their work skills during the work furlough program have a better chance of finding a stable job after being released from prison (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1974). 

In addition, LeClair and Guarino-Ghezzi (1991) studied a total of 966 male inmates who participated in prison furloughs from 1973 to 1974.  They concluded that furloughees were less likely to recidivate than non-furloughed inmates (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991).  Moreover, Turner and Petersilia (1996) conducted a longitudinal study and randomly assigned 218 male inmates into two groups to assess the rate of re-arrest, re-conviction, and return to prison in Seattle, Washington.  The evidence established that male inmates who participated in work furlough programs had a lower likelihood of getting re-arrested, re-convicted, and were less likely to return to prison than non-furloughees (Turner & Petersilia, 1996).

In 2009, Cheliotis conducted a meta-analysis and reviewed a total of 23 studies on both home and work furloughs, to further assess the effectiveness of both programs.  He asserted that although limitations existed (e.g., varying follow-up periods and poor information on program implementation), he found consistent results and concluded that home and work furlough schemes were effective in reducing post-release arrest rates (Cheliotis, 2009).  More recently, Bales and his colleagues (2015) examined the effectiveness of prison work furlough programs on post-release recidivism and employment in the state of Florida.  A total of 201,447 Florida inmates released between 2001 and 2004 participated in this study (Bales et al., 2015).  The findings demonstrated that inmates who were released on work furlough had significantly lower recidivism rates than inmates who never participated in a work furlough program.  Moreover, they found that inmates who completed the work release program also had a better chance of finding a job when reintegrating into their communities (Bales et al., 2015).   

It is not difficult to conclude that prison-based work furlough programs benefit inmates by maintaining and enhancing their work skills while in prison, giving them a better chance in the job market upon release.  The majority of the previous studies were consistent and demonstrated that inmates who participated in a work furlough generally were more successful than their counterparts who never participated work furloughs (Jeffery & Woolpert, 1975; Turner & Persilia, 1996; Cheliotis, 2009; Bales et al., 2015)

However, Waldo and Chiricos’s study (1977) reached different conclusions.  These researchers examined the effectiveness of work release in Florida by utilizing three data resources (self-reports, official records, and correction files) from July to December 1969.  A total of 281 male inmates were randomly assigned in the study, which measured recidivism rates from a shorter 24-month follow-up and a longer 46-month follow-up period.  The study concluded that participation in work furlough programs does not make any difference on recidivism (Waldo & Chircos, 1977). 

Work furlough programs also may have a negative impact on public safety perceptions.  The Willie Horton incident still has a substantial impact on furlough programs (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991).  Willie Horton was a convicted felon who received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.  Despite his record of serious criminality, he was granted on a weekend furlough, which he used to escape.  Once free, he committed an assault, an armed robbery, and rape before being arrested.  The controversy of Horton’s furlough was a major issue during the 1988 Presidential Campaign (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991).  The Horton incident thereafter changed the way furloughs were administered—the granting of fewer furloughs became institutionalized (LeClair & Guarino-Ghezzi, 1991).  One incident should not lead to the downfall of an entire program, but the visibility of the Horton matter attracted substantial public attention and significantly cooled the enthusiasm underlying the programs. 

Critiques of Furlough Policy

Furlough programs can be used to address an array of issues.  For example, Duwe (2014) asserted that work furlough programs could reduce costs of correctional systems.  He conducted a cost-benefit study in Minnesota and established that there was an overall benefit of $700 per participant from 2007 to 2010 (Duwe, 2014).  Furthermore, state and federal correctional systems saved money because work furloughees could be housed in less expensive facilities with limited security personnel.  The success of furlough programs is usually defined, however, by how well these programs rehabilitate offenders. 

Relevant research focused on the evaluation of rehabilitative effectiveness by comparing the recidivism rates among the two study groups (e.g., furlough participants v. non-furlough participants).  Despite supportive findings, several weaknesses existed in previous studies examining the impact of home and work furlough and the outcome of reintegration success.  First, the majority of the studies only measured official recidivism rates, and only a few studies investigated the underlying relationship between family ties/employment involvement and their impact on reintegration into communities.  Second, previous studies tended to focus exclusively on male prisoners and ignored female inmates.  Last but not least, the victim’s feelings about home and work furloughs were largely being ignored.  Negative events (e.g., the Horton incident) aroused citizens’ concerns about public safety and supported the view that the victim perspective on furloughs should be taken into account. 

Policy Recommendations

Furlough programs should be viewed as a process, not a single event.  Furlough programs generally require that inmates must have a record of good behavior before they qualify to be considered for furloughs.  A risk and needs assessment report need to be conducted by correctional administrators on every eligible inmate.  Inmates convicted of violent felonies may not be considered for any type of furlough.  Furloughs create opportunities for low-risk offenders—inmates who are more likely to succeed in a furlough program, and to be accepted by host communities.  High-risk inmates—those with a propensity to violence—should be excluded from such programs.  In addition, in order to protect the public safety, mandatory supervision must be enforced upon all the granted fouloughees’ temporary release regardless of the variation of supervision type (e.g., GPS monitoring, staff supervision).   

Moreover, criminals with emotional and economic problems could suffer great psychological stress from re-entering society.  Their victims also may not welcome their temporary emancipation.  For reasons of public safety and in consideration of victims’ perspective, correctional administrators should conduct relevant social research when deciding whether offenders should be granted a home furlough or a work furlough.  Research surveys should be distributed to both victims and citizens to ascertain public opinion.  Such work should promote and improve the implementation furlough programs. 

As discussed previously, the family is the foundation of society and plays an extremely important role in an individual’s life.  Strong family ties and a healthy family attachment lead to inmate self-reform and the avoidance of further imprisonment.  Holidays are a great opportunity for inmates to re-connect with their family.  Holiday furloughs, therefore, should be encouraged for eligible inmates.   In addition, the possible difference between male and female performance in home and work furlough programs warrants greater study.  Future study and policy proposals should then integrate gender differences as a relevant factor. 

References

Alahdadi, A. (2016). Prison and Its Impact on Recidivism. Journal of Politics and Law. 9, 59-64.

The author pointed out that a large number of individuals who finish serving their time are released to the community every year.  Most of the released prisoners return to prison.  Inmates experience difficulties in re-entering the community and are more likely to engage in criminal activities.  This article also discussed the role of prison in the rehabilitation of and prevention of recidivism among prisoners.

An, Y., & Zhu, Y.R. (2018). Home Furlough Granted in Female Prisons at Sichuan Province. Retrieved from: http://www.sohu.com/a/223208040_123753

The authors conducted interviews for inmates who were granted a home furlough during the Spring Festival in 2018.   These interviews indicated that the majority of the home furloughees were grateful, supported by their family members, and were able to develop a more positive attitude toward their rehabilitation.

Bales, W.D., Clark, C., Scaggs, S., Ensley, D., Coltharp, P., Singer, A., & Blomberg, T. (2015). An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Prison Work Release Programs on Post-Release Recidivism and Employment.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of prison-based work release and its impact on post-prison recidivism and employment.  The study contained positive results.  Findings indicated that inmates who engaged in work release had significantly lower level of recidivism than the control group.  In addition, work release is a highly significant influence on the likelihood of obtaining employment after release.  

Cheliotis, L.K. (2008). Reconsidering the Effectivess of Temparary Release: A Systematic Review. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 13. 153-168.

This article offered a systematic review of the ‘what works’ literature on temporary release (particularly in home leave and work release).  Findings indicated that both home and work release schemes were effective in reducing recidivism rates, while work release also enhanced post-release employment prospects. 

 

Cheliotis, L.K. (2009). Before the Next Storm: Some Evidence-Based Reminders about Temporary Release. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 53(4). 420-432.

This study conduced a comprehensive review of the literature on the effectiveness of temporary release programs for prisoners.  Findings yielded positive results: both home leave and work release were effective in terms of reducing recidivism rates. 

Duwe, G. (2014). An Outcome Evaluation of a Prison Work Release Program: Estimating Its Effects on Recidivism, Employment, and Cost Avoidance. Criminal Justice Policy Review. 26 (6). 531-554.

This study was conducted on a basis of a quasi-experimental design and evaluated the effectiveness of a Minnesota prison work release program.  The author asserted that work furlough programs could reduce the costs of correctional systems.  He conduced a cost-benefit study in Minnesota and established that there was an overall benefit of $700 per participant from 2007 to 2010.

Gendreau, P., Gotten, C., & Cullen, F. (1999). The Effects of Prison Sentences on Recidivism.  Canada, Solicitor General Canada.

This study concluded that prisons were “schools of crime,” and that there was a tendency for lower-risk offenders to be negatively affected by the prison experience.  The study also found that prison produced slight increases in recidivism.  Imprisonment, therefore, should not be used with the expectation of reducing criminal behavior or recidivism rates.

Harer, M.D. (1994). Recidivism Among Federal Prisoners Released in 1987. Federal Bureau of Prisons. 46(3). 98-128.

This article assessed recidivism rates on inmates who were released from the Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) after three years.  Statistics in this study indicated that there was a high percentage of former inmates who either had been re-arrested or had their parole revoked, that is, recidivated.  Moreover, the author found that recidivism rates were highest during the first year of release. 

Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Hirschi asserted that, when the elements of the social bonding were strong, there was little likelihood that individuals would engage in deviant conduct.  When one or more of the elements (attachment to others; commitment to conventional activities or goals; involvement in conventional activities; and belief in the rules of society) was weakened or absent, however, individuals—freed from conventional constraints—were more likely to engage in deviant behavior. 

Jeffery, R., & Woolpert, S. (1975). Work Furlough as an Alternative to Incarceration: An Assessment of Its Effects on Recidivism and Social Cost. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 65(3). 405-415.

The authors asserted that increased awareness of the ineffectiveness of imprisonment has resulted in an upsurge of interest in alternatives to incarceration.  The main thrust of correctional proposals is that it is less expensive, more productive, and ultimately in society’s benefit to keep offenders out of the prison.  This study focused on the effectiveness of community-based work-furlough program.  The authors conducted a longitudinal study and examined a work furlough program and an inmate’s post-release outcome in San Mateo County, California.  The research yielded positive results.

LeClair, D.P. (1978). Home Furlough Program Effects on Rates of Recidivism. Criminal Justice and Behavior. 5(3). 249-258.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of furlough programs by analyzing recidivism rates for individuals released from Massachusetts correctional institutions in 1973 and 1974.  Findings established that inmates who experienced at least one home furlough experienced a significant reduction in recidivism rates. 

LeClair, D.P., & Guarino-Ghezzi, S. (1991). Does Incapacitation Guarantee Public Safety? Lessons From the Massachusetts Furlough and Prerelease Programs. Justice Quarterly. 8(1).10-36.

This study examined two correctional programs—community-based prison release programs and prison furloughs—for adult males in the Massachusetts Department of Correction to determine whether there was an identifiable effect on recidivism rates.  The authors studied a total of 966 male inmates who participated in prison furloughs from 1973 to 1974.  They concluded that furloughees were less likely to recidivate than non-furloughed inmates.

Mays, G.L.,& Ruddell, R. (2015). Making sense of criminal justice: Policies and practices (2nd edition). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 11 of their book discusses the substantial growth in the U.S. prison population since the mid-1970s, and why this growth took place. 

Sampson, R.J. & Laub,J.H. (2003). Life-Course Desisters? Trajectories of Crime among Delinquent Boys Followed to Age 70. Criminology. 41. 319-339.

Laub and Sampson developed the theoretical linkages between sources of informal social control in adulthood and criminal behavior.  They also examined the causal mechanisms linking sources of informal social control and adulthood in criminal behavior (e.g., turning points, human agency).  They argued that events like marriage and employment could lead to a reduction in criminal activities through a change in routing activities.  Direct supervision and monitoring by a spouse or employers could decrease the likelihood of individual’s criminality. 

Seiter, R.P., & Kadela, K.R. (2003). Prisoner Reentry: What Works, What Does Not, and What Is Promising. Crime & Delinquency. 49(3). 360-388.

This study defined prisoner re-entry, categorized prisoner re-entry programs, and used the Maryland Scale of Scientific Method to determine the effectiveness of program categories.  The authors concluded that many such categories are effective in aiding re-entry and reducing recidivism.

Shao, K. (2018). A Total 999 Inmates on Home Furlough During the Chinese Spring Festival. Retrieved form: https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_2020656.

This article discussed the fact that, in 2018, a total of 999 inmates from 311 prisons located in 27 provinces were granted supervised home furloughs for the Chinese Spring Festival.  Every inmate returned to prison on time.

Turner, S. M., & Petersilia, J. (1996). Work release in Washington: Effects on recidivism and corrections costs. Prison Journal. 76(2), 138-164.

This study presents the results from two studies of Washington State’s Prison work release program conducted between 1991 and 1994.  The first study analyzed how work release operates and how successfully inmates perform in the program.  The authors also conducted a longitudinal study and randomly assigned 218 male inmates into two groups to assess the rate of re-arrest, re-conviction, and return to prison in Seattle, Washington.  Results of the evaluation were mostly positive.

Visher, C.A., & Travis, J. (2003). Transitions from Prison to Community: Understanding Individual Pathways. Annual Review of Sociology. 29. 89-113.

The study discussed the factor of eventual released back into the community for a majority of inmates.  There were a large percent of released prisoners who returned to prison, that is, recidivated.  Obviously, an individual’s transition from prison to the community is not easy, and the need for developing a transition process has become urgent. 

Wagner, P., & Sakala, L. (2014). Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. Retrieved from: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie.html.  

This article offers a pie chart that provides a comprehensive snapshot of the U.S. correctional system.  The chart indicated that a large segment of the prison population left prison every year.

Waldo,G.P., & Chiricos, T.G. (1977). Work Release and Recidivism: An Empirical Evaluation of a Social Policy. Evaluation Review. 1(1). 87-108.

These researchers examined the effectiveness of work release in Florida by utilizing three data resources (self-reports, official records, and correction files) from July to December 1969.  A total of 281 male inmates were randomly assigned to the study, which measured recidivism rates from a shorter 24-month follow-up to a longer 46-month follow-up period.  The study concluded that participation in work furlough programs does not make any difference on recidivism.

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