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Unformatted text preview: The Effectiveness of Correctional Rehabilitation: A Review of Systematic Reviews Mark W. Lipsey 1 and Francis T. Cullen 2 1 Institute for Public Policy Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37212; email: [email protected] 2 Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226-0389; email: [email protected] Annu. Rev. Law Soc. Sci. 2007. 3:297–320 First published online as a Review in Advance on July 5, 2007 The Annual Review of Law and Social Science is online at http://lawsocsci.annualreviews.org This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.3.081806.112833 Copyright c 2007 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved 1550-3585/07/1201-0297$20.00 Key Words treatment, deterrence, sanctions, offenders, meta-analysis Abstract The effects of correctional interventions on recidivism have impor- tant public safety implications when offenders are released from pro- bation or prison. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on those effects, some investigating punitive approaches and some investi- gating rehabilitation treatments. Systematic reviews (meta-analyses) of those studies, while varying greatly in coverage and technique, display remarkable consistency in their overall findings. Supervision and sanctions, at best, show modest mean reductions in recidivism and, in some instances, have the opposite effect and increase reof- fense rates. The mean recidivism effects found in studies of reha- bilitation treatment, by comparison, are consistently positive and relatively large. There is, however, considerable variability in those effects associated with the type of treatment, how well it is imple- mented, and the nature of the offenders to whom it is applied. The specific sources of that variability have not been well explored, but some principles for effective treatment have emerged. The rehabil- itation treatments generally found effective in research do not char- acterize current correctional practice, and bridging the gap between research and practice remains a significant challenge. 297 A n n u . R e v . L a w . S o c . S c i . 2 7 . 3 : 2 9 7- 3 2 . D o w n l o a d e d f r o m a r j o u r n a l s . a n n u a l r e v i e w s . o r g b y N O R T H C A R O L I N A S T A T E U N I V E R S I T Y o n 5 / 1 5 / 9 . F o r p e r s o n a l u s e o n l y . INTRODUCTION On any given day in the United States, over 7 million offenders are under some form of correctional supervision (1 of every 32 adults), with approximately one-third incar- cerated and the remainder on probation or parole (Glaze & Bonczar 2006). Of those in- carcerated, approximately 600,000 return to the community each year (Hughes & Wilson 2002, Travis 2005). These numbers reﬂect an unprecedentedincreaseduringrecentdecades (Mauer 1999, Patillo et al. 2004). In the early 1970s, state and federal prisons housed fewer than 200,000 inmates, and the rate of incar- ceration had remained relatively stable for the previous half-century (Blumstein & Cohen...
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