DOES CORRECTIONAL TREATMENT WORK? A CLINICALLY RELEVANT AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY INFORMED META-ANALYSIS *

Authors

  • D.A. ANDREWS,

    1. Carleton University
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    • D. A. Andrews is a professor of psychology at Carleton University and co-director of the Laboratory for Research on Assessment and Evaluation in the Human Services. His research interests include the assessment of risk, need, and responsivity factors among clients of correctional, youth, family, and mental health agencies, as well as the analysis and evaluation of effective treatment services. Additionally, he is interested in the social psychology of criminological knowledge.

  • IVAN ZINGER,

    1. Carleton University
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    • Ivan Zinger, a recent graduate from Carleton University, is currently a student of law at the University of Ottawa. His research interests include the clinical/community psychology of crime and the social psychology of law and justice.

  • ROBERT D. HOGE,

    1. Carleton University
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    • Robert D. Hoge is a professor of psychology at Carleton University and co-director of the Laboratory for Research on Assessment and Evaluation in the Human Services. His major areas of research interest concern problems in psychological assessment, with a particular concern for educational and criminal justice settings.

  • JAMES BONTA,

    1. Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre
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    • James Bonta is Chief Psychologist at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, clinical associate professor at the University of Ottawa, and research adjunct professor at Carleton University. His research interests include the assessment of offenders, the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation, and the effects of incarceration.

  • PAUL GENDREAU,

    1. Centracare Saint John, New Brunswick
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    • Paul Gendreau is a professor of psychology at the University of New Brunswick (Saint John), consultant and past-director of research at Centracare Saint John, and consultant to Saint John Police Services. His research interests include assessment, treatment, and consultation.

  • FRANCIS T. CULLEN

    1. University of Cincinnati
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    • Francis T. Cullen is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include theories of crime and deviance, white-collar crime, correctional policy, and the attitudes of the public and professionals toward deviance and official processing.


  • *

    This paper is dedicated to Daniel Glaser, Ted Palmer, and Marguerite Q. Warren.

Abstract

Careful reading of the literature on the psychology of criminal conduct and of prior reviews of studies of treatment effects suggests that neither criminal sanctioning without provision of rehabilitative service nor servicing without reference to clinical principles of rehabilitation will succeed in reducing recidivism. What works, in our view, is the delivery of appropriate correctional service, and appropriate service reflects three psychological principles: (1) delivery of service to higher risk cases, (2) targeting of criminogenic needs, and (3) use of styles and modes of treatment (e.g., cognitive and behavioral) that are matched with client need and learning styles. These principles were applied to studies of juvenile and adult correctional treatment, which yielded 154 phi coefficients that summarized the magnitude and direction of the impact of treatment on recidivism. The effect of appropriate correctional service (mean phi = .30) was significantly (p <.05) greater than that of unspecified correctional service (.13), and both were more effective than inappropriate service (−.06) and non-service criminal sanctioning (−.07). Service was effective within juvenile and adult corrections, in studies published before and after 1980, in randomized and nonrandomized designs, and in diversionary, community, and residential programs (albeit, attenuated in residential settings). Clinical sensitivity and a psychologically informed perspective on crime may assist in the renewed service, research, and conceptual efforts that are strongly indicated by our review.

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