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Correctional Orientation of Community Corrections: Legislative Changes in the Legally Prescribed Functions of Community Corrections 1992-2002

Steiner, Benjamin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) American Journal of Criminal Justice. 29(2):141-159.

This replication of Johnson et al.’s 1993 study of State statutes and constitutions to determine legally defined purposes of State-operated community corrections programs tests the punishment versus rehabilitation policies in the context of the 1992 and 2002 legally prescribed functions of community corrections. In addition, the study conducted national, regional, and State analyses of the prescribed orientation of community corrections. The findings from Johnson et al.’s study were recoded to reflect punishment or rehabilitation functions. The goals of education services, counseling, rehabilitation, reintegration, specialized treatment, and training/job placement were classified as rehabilitation functions. The goals of collecting restitution, community service, custody and supervision, protecting the public, and punishment were coded as punishment functions. The goals of agency collaboration, classification, community involvement, prevention and reduction of crime, reducing costs, reducing crowding, sentencing alternatives, and victim needs were left unspecified. Comparisons at both the national and State levels found that the punitive approach in community corrections had slightly exceeded the rehabilitative ideal in 2002 as dictated by legislatures. On the other hand, most States’ statutes contained rehabilitation-oriented functions as well, suggesting that rehabilitation is still a priority. There is evidence that community corrections has evolved to include restorative or community justice in its practices. New functions such as agency collaboration, specialized treatment, community involvement, sentence alternatives, and victim needs, which cannot be clearly categorized as rehabilitation or punishment, suggest that the community corrections enterprise cannot be accurately portrayed through the dichotomy of punishment and rehabilitation. Abstract courtesy on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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