Saturday, July 24, 2010

Second Chance, Reentry & Evaluation II

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, Main Justice reports the government’s response—a response invalidated by the historical record of failure using the same service-based models—when the strategy that will work in transforming criminal behavior deeply set within a criminal/carceral worldview, is dramatic change of the criminal’s interiority, change that will occur through a conversion of the heart, change that will occur through the gateway of Catholic social teaching presented by a reformed criminal.

An excerpt.

“A top official in the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs defended alternatives to drug incarceration Thursday before a House panel — despite internal DOJ criticism that the office has poorly monitored its grants funding such programs.

“James Burch II, acting Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance — an office within OJP — testified on the benefits provided by programs that offer alternatives to jail time before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The Office of Justice Programs … has shifted its focus to more strategic, more effective and sustainable approaches to addressing crime that recognizes the critical role of evidence-based strategies and sentencing alternatives,” Burch said. “This means supporting programs that are backed by evidence of effectiveness, not simply ideology.”

“Appealing to fiscal expedience in a time of tight budgets, Burch advocated programs that prevent and divert individuals from entering the criminal justice system. His big sell Thursday was the effectiveness of specialty courts such as “drug courts,” which exclusively address drug-related offenses.

“We must capitalize on the opportunities presented at the front end of the system,” he said. “Many adults and juveniles have been successfully diverted from further offending by programs that use the leverage and the monitoring power of the court.”

“Burch said his office is conducting research to identify effective drug court practices and improve grants administered by the OJP.

“According to the OJP, more than 50 percent of individuals released from prison will encounter legal trouble again within three years, with drug offenders making up the majority of recidivists. Beyond drug courts, the OJP’s grant programs provide services to a variety of high-risk offenders in the hopes of reducing the number of repeat offenses.”