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Rethinking Reentry: a look at how risk-based approaches limit reentry success, and a case for why strengths-based approaches may better reduce recidivism

Donnelly, Julia (2021) Rethinking Reentry: a look at how risk-based approaches limit reentry success, and a case for why strengths-based approaches may better reduce recidivism. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

With nearly 1.5 million people currently incarcerated in the US, an estimated 600,000 people are released from prison annually. Incarceration has profoundly harmful effects on the physical and mental health of offenders, and emerging literature suggests that there are negative health impacts of mass incarceration on affected families and communities, contributing to widening racial health disparities across the US. After incarceration, the community reintegration process, known as reentry, is integral to the health of offenders, their families, and communities. However, there are many barriers to reentry that make the return to society difficult. To aid the reintegration process, reentry programs have become a popular element of the criminal justice system that aim to address some of the many barriers to reentry and reduce recidivism. Despite the increasing popularity of these programs, recidivism and reincarceration rates remain high across the US with 77% of released inmates being rearrested and 55% returning to prison. Most reentry programs are designed to manage offender risk, embracing a commonly used framework known as Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR). RNR employs a type of risk management that justifies the exercise of correctional control over offenders to reduce potential harm to communities, but in doing so, prioritizes security and custody goals over efforts meant to address underlying personal, social, and environmental risk factors that drive criminal behavior. RNR inherently focuses on offender deficit and problems and does little to consider offender strengths and assets. As a result, programming set in the RNR framework does not engage offenders in the decision-making process concerning treatment and reentry, potentially limiting offender reentry success. This emphasis on deficit exclusively highlights weakness, whereas an emphasis on strength highlights one’s abilities and encourages the exercise of agency and control over the problems in one’s life. Strengths-based approaches are standard in most social work practices but have not yet been embraced by the criminal justice system. If reentry programs were to rely less on traditional risk-management models and adopt more strength-based approaches, reentry programs may have a better chance at increased and sustained success by promoting offender engagement, agency, and individual commitment to reentry goals and outcomes.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Donnelly, Juliajud28@pitt.edujud28
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGarland, Richardrig11@pitt.edurig11
Committee MemberBear, Toddtobst2@pitt.edutobst2
Committee MemberBangs, Ralphralph.bangsrbangs
Date: 12 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 April 2021
Approval Date: 12 May 2021
Submission Date: 30 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 75
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: strengths-based risk-based prisoner reentry program development recidivism reentry success
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 18:03
Last Modified: 12 May 2021 18:03
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/41044

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  • Rethinking Reentry: a look at how risk-based approaches limit reentry success, and a case for why strengths-based approaches may better reduce recidivism. (deposited 12 May 2021 18:03) [Currently Displayed]

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