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Community Corrections Committee fulfills Huskey's charge.

Fulfilling Past President Huskey's charge "to develop a mission statement and supporting principles" proved to be an exciting and exhilarating experience for members of the Community Corrections Committee. Finalizing its work at the 126th ACA Congress of Correction in Nashville, the committee reviewed and reflected upon the past two years and showed appreciation for the challenge the president's charge presented.

The committee, as it prepares to enter into the next millennium, recognized the importance of a clear statement about the purpose of community corrections and the need for linking this purpose to a set of guiding principles.

Mission statements are used to guide and direct organizations seeking excellence in their ventures. It is the committee's wish that the field of community corrections will pursue excellence, and by way of assistance, proposes the following as a mission statement: "To enhance public safety through the implementation of sanctions and the provision of services to appropriately selected offenders (or defendants) in positive community settings."

This mission grew out of the committee's work to define community corrections and recognize public safety as an important goal for community corrections. Public safety is best achieved by having a range of sanctions at the court's disposal, and when coupled with services, working to inhibit reoffending when applied to appropriately selected offenders. In fulfilling this purpose, community corrections can meet the risk, need and responsivity principles that are indicated in the research on effective correctional programs.

The committee also thought it important to note that sanctions and services should be implemented in "positive community settings." Releasing offenders into settings that provide only negative reinforcement and criminogenic role models is unlikely to reduce reoffending, but settings that provide positive reinforcement and prosocial role modeling stand a better chance of reducing offending behavior.

In order for community corrections to fulfill its mandate and realize its promise, the committee struggled with which assumptions, values and principles were desirable and which ones would impact the characteristics of a quality service. The discussion ranged wide and far, but in the end the committee settled on five core areas of importance in the delivery of a quality community corrections program. The areas include: resources, accountability, community involvement, programs and sanctions. Since policy choices are value choices, the committee expressed itself in terms of basic principles that should inform and guide the mission of community corrections. The principle statements deemed essential to the provision of adequate and effective community corrections sanctions and services are as follows:

Resources:

* There must be an adequate investment of resources in community corrections to successfully complete its mission.

Accountability:

* Community corrections must operate its programs and services based on sound and reliable data and research.

* Community corrections must operate its programs and services cost-effectively, leveraging other resources.

* Community corrections must operate its programs and services humanely and ethically.

* Community corrections must hold offenders accountable for their behavior and the impact it has on the victim and the community.

Community Involvement:

* Successful reintegration depends on the community acceptance of the offender.

* Community involvement requires the ability of local communities to identify and solve their own problems.

* An informed public is a supportive and responsive public.

* Active community involvement in the planning, development and operations strengthens community corrections.

Programs:

* Assessment is crucial in selecting appropriate clients, minimizing risk, identifying their needs and matching resources to meet them.

* Community corrections should help offenders build the skills necessary to help them become productive, law-abiding members of society.

* Effective community corrections must be driven by principles, monitored through an ongoing management system, and evaluated by objective outcome measures.

Sanctions:

* A graduated continuum of sanctions is desirable.

* The use of the least-restrictive sanctions should be consistent with public safety.

* A balanced approach that combines sanctions with services that motivate positive behavioral change should be used.

* Sanctions should respond to the needs of both the victim and the community.

The committee trusts that its work on the definition, purpose and principles of community corrections will extend beyond merely fulfilling Past President Huskey's charge to them. The debates, dialogue and discussion among the various committee members who come from several different community corrections fields, such as residential settings and probation and parole, provided all who participated with a rich experience.

Committee members would like to extend their appreciation to the National Institute of Corrections, Community Corrections Division, and to ACA staff for their assistance.

The committee's work is dedicated to improving public safety, restoring victims and offenders, and building strong, healthy and safe communities.

REFERENCES

Andrews, Donald. 1996. The news: Overview of treatment effectiveness. A national symposium on violent offenders: Summary and resources, ed. B. Krauth. Washington, D.C.: NIC., Department of Justice. (Feb.).

Evans, Donald G. 1996. Defining community corrections. Corrections Today (Oct.).

Donald G. Evans is president of Donald G. Evans & Associates and chair of ACA's Community Corrections Committee.
COPYRIGHT 1996 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Evans, Donald G.
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Dec 1, 1996
Words:803
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