Models of offender rehabilitation : a comparison of the risk, need, responsivity model and the good lives model
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SubjectResearch Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology; Criminal psychology; Criminals - Rehabilitation; Sex offenders - Rehabilitation; Sex offenders - Treatment; Good Lives Model (GLM); Risk, Need, Responsivity Model (RNR)
Within five years of release from prison, three quarters (76.6%) of offenders across 30 state correctional systems are re-arrested, while total state costs for corrections in the U.S. exceed $48 billion. The bleak outlook for over 6.8 million offenders and the burden on their communities makes the continued improvement of offender rehabilitation theory imperative. Improvements in theory can drive improvement in rehabilitation programs in both community and institutional corrections. The risk, need, responsivity model (RNR) of criminal rehabilitation has become the dominant evidence-based framework for professionals in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. However, critics argue that the model’s focus on reducing the likelihood of offending results in many RNR-based programs lacking an orientation that seeks to fully reintegrate offenders into communities as well-adjusted, contributing members of those communities. In contrast, the recent development of the good lives model (GLM) utilizes positive psychology principles to produce interventions based on character strengths, making the achievement of a meaningful, happy, and socially adjusted life its primary objective. Though GLM has been taken by some as an alternative to RNR, the two models are not mutually exclusive: the literature suggests that those areas where RNR lacks specificity can be clarified and enriched by the GLM model. Further, with a paucity of empirical literature to support the claims of GLM, it is argued that the Values in Action (VIA) model of character strengths and character strengths interventions should be utilized to inform continued research in the field. Such a synergy could lead to the development of programs that include evidence-based interventions to reduce re-offending, while at the same time increasing offenders’ chances of re-integrating into communities and leading meaningful lives. Finally, the social setting in which individual rehabilitation occurs is explored, and the implications for theories of offender rehabilitation are discussed.
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