A substantial amount of research exists identifying practices for assessing individuals under correctional control and the best approaches to work with them to reduce recidivism effectively (Andrews, Bonta, and Hoge, 1990; Andrews, Zinger, et al., 1990; Bonta, 2002). These studies have focused on both adults and juveniles, men and women, and in different correctional contexts (see for example, Gendreau, Little, & Goggin, 1996). But what they have not examined, is how these practices apply or generalize to people convicted of white-collar offenses. In the criminal justice system, research has demonstrated effectiveness for conducting actuarial assessment and cognitive-behavioral treatment practices to reduce general recidivism, but for certain offense types it is necessary to conduct additional assessments or adjust treatment and services accordingly. For example, there is research on what is most effective for people convicted of domestic assault, violent offenses, sex offenses, and driving under the influence (DUI) offenses. Yet to date, very little research has explored correctional practices for people convicted of white-collar offenses. One of the few exceptions to this is research on risk assessment with people convicted of white-collar offenses on federal supervision (Harbinson, 2017 and Harbinson, Benson, & Latessa, 2019).
The practices that Progressive Prison Ministries is currently offering are aligned with much of the research on what works to change behavior for people struggling with addiction, negative relationships with family, friends, and associates, and unethical values often found among people engaging in crime. Yet, it is necessary to collect data to better understand how criminal justice services can work best with people charged or convicted of white-collar crimes. Research can fulfill two goals for our work. One goal would be to monitor how the program is implemented and measure outcomes with the clients we serve so data can be used for evaluating implementation of the program. Second, research that evaluates the impact that our work has on outcomes for our clients (i.e., improved relationships with family members, gains in ethical decision-making) and for our community (i.e., reductions in reconvictions) would allow us to see how our program has both the positive impacts on the people and community we serve. It would also allow us to develop a better understanding on how best to improve outcomes for people involved with white-collar crime. Research in this area is significantly lacking, and data on this topic would benefit other services and interventions that have similar goals as ours.
Andrews, D. A., Bonta, J., & Hoge, R. D. (1990). Classification for effective rehabilitation: Rediscovering psychology. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, 19–52.
Andrews, D. A., Zinger, I., Hoge, R. D., Bonta, J., Gendreau, P., & Cullen, F. T. (1990). Does correctional treatment work? A clinically relevant and psychologically informed meta-analysis. Criminology, 28, 369–404.
Bonta, J. (2002). Offender risk assessment: Guidelines for selection and use. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 29, 355–379.
Gendreau, P., Little, T., & Goggin, C. (1996). A meta-analysis of the predictors of adult offender recidivism: What works! Criminology, 34, 575– 607.