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The Fallacy of “What Works” in Offender Rehabilitation  

Author:  David  Farabee, Ph.D..

Source: Volume 16, Number 06, March/April 2013 , pp.83-86(4)

Offender Programs Report

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The image of a pendulum is often invoked to describe shifts in how our society prefers to deal with crime. At one end, the pendulum emphasizes punishment and incapacitation; at the other end, it emphasizes treatment and rehabilitation. Its perpetual motion is a good indicator that neither of these oversimplified extremes has been fruitful enough to hold public support for a sustained period of time. Indeed, it is difficult to make the case that increasing the severity of punishment will produce a general deterrent effect on crime. It is equally difficult to identify models of offender rehabilitation that hold up under rigorous empirical scrutiny. But the movement toward “what works” and “evidence-based practices” reveals that rigor often lies in the eye of the beholder.

Keywords:  “What Works”; National Research Council (NRC) Study; National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Policies (NREPP)

Affiliations:  1: University of California, Los Angeles Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP).

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