An investigation into jail programming and recidivism
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Correctional programs are a necessary aspect of the criminal justice system. They assist in providing treatment and rehabilitation for criminal justice-involved persons during their time in correctional facilities. Correctional programs vary in scope and many are intended to address issues common amongst criminal justice-involved persons such as mental illness, antisocial behavior, unemployment, criminal thinking, low education, substance abuse, and other criminogenic needs. Ultimately, the aim of many correctional programs is to reduce recidivism through correcting these issues. Unfortunately, most existing research concerning correctional programs and recidivism exclusively examines prisoners, with comparatively little emphasis on jail inmates and jail recidivism. This is problematic as jails and prisons are different in many ways, including operationally (e.g., prisons having higher and more stable populations than jails) and also in population characteristics (e.g., more jail inmates report experiencing mental health disorders than prisoners). This current research expands on research conducted with prison samples by examining how jail program attendance and recidivism may be related in a jail sample. This research examined jail programs offered to inmates at the Lubbock County Detention Center (LCDC), a local jail serving the county of Lubbock, Texas. This research sought to answer four research questions: 1) What are the different correctional treatment programs the LCDC offered between January 2015 and December 2018 and which of these programs were considered appropriate, inappropriate, or indeterminant in terms of potential effectiveness, 2) Which of these programs were attended by the sample, 3) What is the relationship of inmate-specific variables to program attendance, and 4) does attending these programs have an impact on recidivism. The following hypotheses were tested: 1) attending at least one program will lower recidivism, 2) attending more programs will result in lower recidivism, 3) attending a greater number of days across multiple programs will result in lower recidivism, and d) there is a significant interaction between the number of programs attended and the number of days of attendance on rate of recidivism. Findings indicated program attendance and recidivism were not related, nor were they influenced by inmate-specific variables. Exploratory analyses indicated attendance and recidivism may instead be impacted by other variables, such as the number of previous convictions a person has. Other implications of jail program attendance and jail recidivism are discussed.