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Offender Rehabilitation in Practice.

Offender Rehabilitation in Practice, edited by Gary A. Bernfeld, David P. Farrington and Alan W. Leschied, John Wiley, 2001, 287 pp.

During times of budget shortfalls, spending for rehabilitation programs within corrections is usually the first to be reviewed for spending cuts. Policy-makers need guidelines that maximize return on funding for rehabilitation. With the advent of meta-analysis, which involves controlling variables and combining results of large numbers of research projects, rehabilitation programs in corrections have become evidence-based. The 13 articles contained in Offender Rehabilitation in Practice are timely in that each is focused on an important aspect of the transfer of information so that evidence-based research can be put into practice. The volume has been organized into three sections. The first contains issues related to correctional effectiveness, the second focuses on implementing specific programs and the third provides general information regarding consulting, implementing and evaluating correctional programs.

In Chapter four, "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Programs: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice," Freidrich Losel provides a brief outline of the history of correctional programs and the difficulties involved with outcome evaluation. Program evaluation has been complicated by a variety of factors, including inconsistent delivery, drop-out rates, offender characteristics and criteria for recidivism. Losel concludes that "the results of individual studies should be continuously integrated and updated through meta-analyses on specific types of offenders, programs, institutions and social contexts. Such systematic data can form the basis for a rational crime policy."

The six chapters devoted to implementation of specific programs include "Multisystemic Therapy," "Aggression Replacement Training," "Teaching-Family Model" and "Straight Thinking on Probation." Though several chapters described programs for adult offenders, the majority of chapters in this section provided information for delinquent offenders. The programs used structured teaching modules based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology and intensive involvement with community resources, especially involvement with families of offenders. All require qualified supervisors and well-trained staff. Compelling evidence is beginning to emerge supporting investment in these types of programs, especially for early intervention with adolescents.

The final three chapters are devoted to practical aspects of implementation and evaluation of programs, and the role of consultant. In the last chapter, in summarizing the role of the consultant, Clive Hollin offers concrete guidelines and Web site references to organize evaluation criteria. Hollin defends the role of the consultant as "the keeper of the vision." The consultant translates research into practice and mediates tendencies within organizations to not lose the big picture by becoming rigidly locked in on meeting standards for accreditation rather than striving to deliver programs and services.

This volume of articles provides useful information and guidelines for implementation and evaluation of correctional programs. Those who make recommendations for funding and decisions regarding the types of programs to be implemented would benefit from information provided in this book. In addition, this is an excellent summary of offender programming that could be used as a textbook in criminal justice curriculums.

Reviewed by Kip Hillman, Psy.D., a forensic psychologist based in Chicago.
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Title Annotation:Bookshelf
Author:Hillman, Kip
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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