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Contemporary Community Corrections.

This book examines a wide range of topics related to community corrections. It includes a historical perspective, speculation about the field's future and numerous studies about everything from probation/parole officer attitudes to the effectiveness of intensive supervision programs.

Although the articles are readable, the book does not provide easy answers. As a non-academic, I found it frustrating to plow through study after study presenting encouraging preliminary findings, only to be disappointed to learn that the studies often had design flaws, namely a lack of experimental and control groups.

Several articles explore how current correctional philosophies guide state and local systems in developing programs. They note that government officials often fail to think through the rationale behind a program in the rush to implement new systems, creating confusion and disappointment in the public's mind if the program fails. The simple idea that "if you don't know where you're going, you won't know if you've arrived" is as true for community corrections as any other important endeavor.

Another topic that receives thorough treatment is the changing role of the probation/parole officer. Various views are presented regarding what could and should be done to clarify and revitalize probation and parole's role within a community corrections framework. Several of the articles conclude that probation is not working.

Intensive supervision programs also do not fare well. One contributor believes these programs will continue to expand even though they do not deliver a cost-effective, crime-preventive alternative to incarceration. However, one chapter does present a more promising model for both ISP and probation.

Some of the articles seem dated. Editor Thomas Ellsworth states, "each selection is contemporary in the sense that the issues presented are topics of current debate by legislators, policy makers, academicians and, most importantly, practitioners." While it is true that the more philosophical articles remain relevant, a number of the more research-oriented articles written in the mid- and early-1980s could have used an update.

Overall, I found this a worthwhile and thought-provoking book for anyone in community corrections.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Zoet, Thomas H.
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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