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April 21, 2010

Research review showing home leave and work release can reduce recidivism

In light of on-going concern with recidivism rates and interest in effective re-entry programming, this paper newly available via SSRN should be on a reading list for everyone interested in evidence-based sentencing reforms.  The paper is titled "Reconsidering the Effectiveness of Temporary Release: A Systematic Review," and here is the abstract:

This article offers a systematic review of the ‘what works’ literature on temporary release, particularly as concerns home leave and work release programs. Against the ‘nothing works’ proposition, the findings suggest that both home leave and work release schemes can be effective in reducing recidivism rates, while work release may also enhance post-release employment prospects. The final section discusses the directions future evaluative research should take, with special reference to the need for drawing the link between the procedural and outcome dimensions of temporary release.

UPDATE:  I just noticed on SSRN this related (and slightly more recent) piece about temporary release from the same author, Leonidas K. Cheliotis, which is titled "Before the Next Storm: Some Evidence-Based Reminders About Temporary Release."

April 21, 2010 at 09:26 AM | Permalink


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I can't access the research but note that it emanates from the London School of Law.

I would caution one who thinks it can be directly applied to our less homogeneous society.

Posted by: mjs | Apr 21, 2010 10:04:28 AM

"Research review showing home leave and work release can reduce recidivism."

Willie Horton, call your office. Your ship has come in. Again.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 21, 2010 10:32:22 AM

Hmm, it took a whole hour for Willie Horton to be broached. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you, Lee Atwater! (And of course, hat tip to Massachusetts for applying their furlough program to *first degree murderers*. Good job, Bay State! All the burglars, drug sellers, forgers, and other lesser felons rotting in prison salute you.)

If only we could quantify all the bad things that *don't* happen when prisoners who are getting out at some point anyway are allowed to reconnect gradually to the outside world and rebuild a support system and context for a stable life upon release. But we can't do that in a way that is captured in a photograph or a sound bite, so in most public forums we have nothing to weigh on the other side of the scale from Willie.

Posted by: Obsever | Apr 21, 2010 11:48:23 AM


1. The problem with Willie Horton was not Lee Atwater. It was Willie Horton. When you release dangerous convicts, it is a certainty that people will get hurt. We just don't know how many or how badly. But we know it's going to happen.

When it does, what do you recommend we say to the victim? "Sorry sweetie, but you just happened to draw the short stick. That's how the cookie crumbles! Willie and thugs like him a chance. As for what you deserve, well............look, just be quiet and quit complaining. You must be some Tea Party person."

Really, what exactly should we say to the inevitable next victim?

2. Just FYI, it wasn't Lee Atwater who discovered Dukakis's devil-may-care fulough program. It was Big Al. During the Democratic primaries, in a Felt Forum debate sponsored by the New York Daily News, Gore challenged Dukakis to defend the Massachusetts program under which convicts serving LWOP were released on weekend passes. In particular, Gore noted that two furloughed prisoners had committed new murders while on weekend leave. Gore did not mention Horton by name, and might not have known about him specifically (although I don't know that). His name was found by a Bush campaign adviser, and thereafter Bush used the issue Gore had handed him.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 21, 2010 2:19:01 PM

Good to hear that there is a thought spent for the jobs lost and the downtrodden economy.There is a need to ponder upon the additional sources of income and what may help churn some money for the family.

Posted by: paid online surveys | Oct 31, 2010 2:37:55 AM

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