Paper short abstract:
Mass incarceration in the US is well documented. This paper describes a methodologically innovative project evaluating a program in Indiana that provides an alternative to re-incarceration for ex-offenders who have committed violations in the terms of their probation.
Paper long abstract:
Every year in Marion County, Indiana, up to 45.9% of individuals released from prison return within three years of their release. In many cases, individuals are returned to prison not because they have re-offended but because of what are called "Technical Rule Violations," or TRVs. TRVs are violations of the terms of probation or parole which can include such reasons as: failed or missed drug-testing drops; missing appointments with parole or probation officers; not completing mandated classes in such areas as anger management or parenting skills; or not paying child support. This paper evaluates a new program being implemented by the social enterprise RecycleForce, which aims to divert individuals who are convicted of TRVs from a return to prison to being alternatively sentenced to work at Recycleforce, where they will receive job training, paid employment, counseling and social services. As researchers, my students and I are examining the impact of what RecycleForce is calling "Work Court" by observing court hearings where ex-offenders are being brought up on TRV charges. We are then interviewing presiding judges and other professional personnel— including prosecutors, defense lawyers, probation and parole officers—about how they render the decision in these cases whether to return an offender to prison or redirect him (or occasionally her) to RecycleForce for a second chance at staying out of prison. Our goal is to assess whether how these decisions are made and whether access to these wrap-around services will decrease current high rates of recidivism.
Applied anthropology as a source of innovation (EASA Applied Anthropology Network)