Forensic - After A Guilty Verdict


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Gillis & Nafekh

Planned Behaviours Once Freed From Jail

Aim:  To investigate the effect on recidivism rates of a community based employment scheme.

Procedure: Content Analysis of data from 23,525 offenders. Matched pairs design on gender, risk level, release year and attitudes.

Results: Those on the employment programme were more likely to remain on conditional release (not be sent back to prison)

70% of the employed remained out of prison, where as just 55% of the unemployed group 

Conclusions: Employment programmes do work and reduce the likelihood of reoffending

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Depression & Suicide Risk in Prisons

Aim: Investigate all unnatural deaths that occured in prisons in England & Wales

Procedure: Content Analysis of prison department personal papers. A checklist was used to analyse the papers.

Results: 442 unnatural deaths, 300 were suicide, the rest got a variety of verdicts. Most of the deaths classified as suicide were of prisoners on remand.  

Conclusions: THe increase in suicide and unnatural deaths is linked to overcrowding and prisoners' stress. We must remember that prisoners suffer from mental health issues and have substance addictions before they are admitted to prison, making them more vulnerable. 

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Haney & Zimbardo

The Prison Situation & Roles

Part one - Summaries of changes over the last 25 years

'War on Drugs' led to political pressure to put more criminals behind bars, and rehabilitations was discredited. Prisoners were simply perceived to deserve punishment. Rigid sentencing with no possibility of parole. Supermax prison calls were introduced (23/24hour isolation) which proved effective. 

Part two - Suggestions for Improvements 

Prisons should be use sparingly as they cause psychological damage, so alternatives should be used where appropriate. Prisons should take account of individual differences and how a person is likely to react to confinement. Rehabilitation programmes are needed to teach prisoners the skills to cope once they are released. For example, anger management programmes, drug and alcohol detox.

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Mair & May


Aim: To investigate the experience of offenders on probation orders in a cross section of offices in England.

Sample: 3229 offenders selected randomly from 22 probation offices across England.

Procedure: Interviews were conducted by independent researchers, questions were mainly closed and multiple choice, covering their life as well as their likelihood to reoffend.

Results: 88% felt probation was useful, but only 37% said it would stop them reoffending.

Conclusions: Probation is seen as useful by offenders

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Sherman & Strang

Restorative Justice

Aim: Look at good practise in restorative justice and investigate the effectiveness of preventing reoffending

Sample: Internet search was applied to many databases which yielded 424 hits, which generated 36 studies.

Procedure: Compared re-offending rates for those who were part of restorative justice programmes and those that were not.

Results: Restorative justice is more effective when there is a personal victim and tends to work for violence and property crime. Not effective in all cases. However it is most effective for the victim reducing post traumatic shock syndrome and helps victims to come to terms with the crime. 

Conclusions: There is a strong evidence to suggest it is effective and there is support for its increased use especially with first time offenders. 

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Looking Deathworthy

Aim: Investigate whether there is support for the hypothesis that black offenders with sterotypcially blakc feautres were more likely to get the death sentence than white offenders. 

Procedure: Lab Exp. Analysis of the databse of death eligible cases in Philadelphia. In 44 cases a Black man killed a white victim. Photogrpahs of the photographs were shown to naive raters who were asked to rate their facial features for stereotypical black features between 1 and 11. The 51 raters included 32 white, 15 asian and four other ethnicities 

Results: It was found that the most stereotypically black defendents were 57.5% likely to recieve the death penalty, where as the less stereotypical defendeants were 24.4% likely. This effect was not seen when the victim was black, so therefoe the black victims are seen as less important

Conclusions: Black men are seen as some how more death worthy

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Cognitive Skills Programmes

Aim: To find out if cognitive skills programmes were effective in terms of lowering convictions rates for a sample of women prisoners.

Smaple: 180 offenders (14 non completed) + comparison group of 540 female offenders. All offenders spent 1 year in the community following a custodial sentaence of 6 months or more.

Procedure: 2 year conviction rates were predicted for all the women, and they were matched based on their risk or reconviction. Actual reconviction rates were recorded after release. The programmes were then examined for effectiveness. 

Results: No significant difference were discovered between the groups, although the R&R group did slightly worse and were re-convicted earlier!

Conclusions: The cognitivie skills programme is not effective at preventing women from reoffending, which suggests that women may offend for different reasons from men, for example drug abuse and relationship problems 

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Anger Management 

Aim: To assess whether anger management programmes work within a group of young male offenders. 

Sample: 50 prisoners who completed the course + control group of 37 suitable prisoners matched on their responses to a cognitive behavioural interview, wing behaviour, and a self report on anger management. 

Procedure: Prisoners were given measure before and after they completed the programme 

Results: Prisoners who had completed CALM rated themselves as lower onthe anger questionnaire and were rated lower by the prison officers, than the control group. 92% of participants that completed CALM showed improvements on at least one measure of aggression and anger. 

Conclusions: The treatment seemed effective but there is no reoffending data, so the findings cannot be applied to the real world outside of the prison

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Ear Acupuncture

Aim: To evaluate the effectiveness of ear acupuncture. 

Sample: 350 prisoners who completed the FOCUS programme, and a control group who didn't receive the acupuncture but did receive the standard care.

Procedure: Two trained practitioners worked with 10-15 prisoners in a relaxed setting. Fine needles were inserted into 5 acupuncture points in the ear and prisoners were relaxed for a 40 minute period. 

Results: Qualitative data - prisoners reported better sleep, relaxation and coping skills

Quantitative data - 70% reduction in drug related incidents from 6 months before, compared with 6 months after treatment. 41% reduction in serious incident reports

Conclusion: There is enough evidence to expand the delivery of the programme throughout the prison system.  

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