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Compendium 2000 on Effective Correctional Programming

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In Canada, the number of provincial/ territorial prison-admissions had increased by 22.5% between 1990-91 and 1992-93 from 207,946 to 245,746. Similarly, federal admissions increased 21.4% between 1990-91 and 1993-94 (peaking one year later than provinces/territories) from 4,646 to to 5,642. The increase in admissions contributed in large measure to the rapid growth of the Canadian federal/provincial/territorial prison population in the early 1990s. Moreover, the total actual-in prison population rose by 16% between 1990-91 and 1994-95 from 29,224 to 33,882.2

Because of this growth in the prison population, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Justice asked Deputy Ministers and Heads of Corrections to identify options to deal effectively with growing prison populations. A paper entitled Corrections Population Growth was subsequently developed and presented to the Ministers in May 1996. An additional recommendation made in the First Report on Progress3 was “sharing research findings on offender programe effectiveness”. This recommendation inspired the formation of an expert advisory group to design and develop a Compendium on Effective Correctional Programming. This introduction provides the backgroud and framework for this work.


The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) was requested by the Federal/ Provincial/Territorial Heads of Corrections to convene an advisory group of international experts on effective correctional programming and develop a framework for a compendium on “what works” in offender programming”. Subsequently, the Research Branch of CSC was approached to undertake a comprehensive review of the literature on effective correctional programs and evaluation methods. Accordingly, a leadership role was taken in assembling an expert advisory group, designing a compendium framework, compiling relevant program information and surveying best practices across the various jurisdictions in Canada.

The expert advisory group

To create an expert advisory group, CSC identified and contracted with a number of well-known researchers/evaluators in the filed of effective correctional programming. From Canada, there was Don Andrews (Carleton University), Paul Gendreau (University of New Brunswick), Alan Leschied (University of Western Ontario), and Joseph Couture (Athabasca University). From the United Kingdom, there was James McGuire (University of Liverpool). From Germany, Freidrick Lösel (Universtat Erlangen-Nurnberg) and from the United States, Douglas Lipton (National Development and Research Institute). In conjunction with CSC Research Branch staff (Larry Motiuk, and Ralph Serin), these individuals comprised the expert advisory group tasked with drafting a framework for a compendium on “what works” in offender programming.

The framework

For the expert advisory group, potential impacts of the Compendium were seen as the following: meeting the needs of multiple users, from practitioners to administrators; sharing best practices among various jurisdictions; providing reasonable measures of evaluating program effectiveness, and, where possible, make recommendations regarding specific tools or instruments to assist staff in this regard; developing innovations in correctional programming; conducting ongoing research into program effectiveness; and enabling different jurisdictions to embrace technology transfer.

In March 1998, a second meeting of the advisory group was held to finalize the Compendium framework that had arose from earlier discussions. At this meeting, some new members joined the advisory group. They included Jim Bonta (Department of the Solicitor General), Nicola Epprecht (Correctional Service of Canada), and Kelley Blanchette (Correctional Service of Canada). Following that meeting, the framework for a compendium of “what works” in offender programming was finalized and presented to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Heads of Corrections for approval in May 1998. Consequently, the task of compiling a five part Compendium 2000 on Effective Correctional Programming was approved to move forward. While a massive research undertaking ensued, the sheer magnitude of it is beyond the scope of this introduction. However, an overview of the basic content of the two volumes is provided here.

Volume 1
Part One. Contributing to Effective Correctional Programs
Part Two. Correctional Programs and Interventions
Part Three. Evaluation
Volume 2
Part Four. Inventory of Correctional Programs
Part Five. Best Practices

Part one -- Contributing to Effective Correctional Programs

In addition to introducing the initiative and purpose of Compendium 2000, Part 1 includes 8 separate chapters. Chapter 1 by James McGuire (University of Liverpool) examines what correctional staff and researchers mean when they talk about a program. Then, In Chapter 2, Don Andrews (Carleton University) describes 18 principles of effective correctional programs. In Chapter 3, Paul Gendreau with Claire Goggin (University of New Brunswick), Francis Cullen (University of Cincinnati), and Don Andrews (Carleton University) quantitatively summarize a substantial body of literature on the effects of community sanctions and incarceration. Chapter 4 by James Bonta (Depatment of Solicitor General) presents an overview of what we know about offender risk assessment. He also includes a discussion of the risk and needs assessments thatunderlie effective treatment. Sharon Kennedy (Correctional Service of Canada), in Chapter 5, addresses the concept of treatment responsivity and exaines a number of responsivity assessment measures currently in use. Then, in Chapter 6, Paul Gendreau, Claire Goggin, and Paula Smith (University of New Brunswick) outline several obstacles to employing best practices, including theoreticism and the failure to effect technology transfer. Chapter 7 by Alan Leschied (University of Western Ontario) presents current findings related to program implementation and the replication of successful programs. Finally, in Chapter 8, Denise Preston (Correctional Service of Canada) reviews th ehistory and evolutionn of the concept of treatment resistance, descibes various reasons for and manifestations of resistance, discusses assessment issues, and suggests strategies to reduce resistance.

Part two -- Correctional Programs/Intervention

This part of Compendium 2000 is organized to provide up-to-date overviews of the treatment literature for specific program areas. The content areas were selected for their relationship to criminality, such that when the appropriate intervention is applied to meet the need it might reasonably be expected to reduce reoffending behaviour. In Chapter 9, Dennis Stevens (University of Massachusetts) examines education as one method of preparing an offender for a safe return to the community. Christa Gillis (Correctional Service of Canada), in Chapter 10, describes current employment measurement techniques and proposes modified measurement strategies. Chapter 11 by Claudio Violato, Mark Genuis, and Elizabeth Oddone-Paolucci (National Foundation for Family Research and Education) deals with various treatment and intervention approaches together with their relative efficacy. Alan Lescheid (University of Western Ontario), in Chapter 12, details the program factors contributing to effectiveness for institutionalized and non-institutionalized young offenders. Chapter 13 by Lynn Stewart, Jim Hill, and Janice Cripps (Correctional Service of Canada) provides a review of issues related to the treatment of spousal violence. Then, in Chapter 14, Lynn Lightfoot (CSC, Consultant) reviews the substance abuse treatment literature. Chapter 15 by Lynn Stewart (Correctional Service of Canada) and Rob Rowe (Carleton University) discusses the problems of self-regulation among adult offenders. James McGuire (University of Liverpool), in Chapter 16, reviews evidence concerning treatment of offenders with mental disorders. He provides definitions, focuses on outcomes and turns our attention to the management of offenders with mental disorder. Chapter 17 by William Marshall (Queen's University) and Sharon Williams (Correctional Service of Canada) explores the assessment and treatment of sex offenders. Ralph Serin and Denise Preston (Correctional Service of Canada), in Chapter 18, investigate programming for violent offenders. Then in Chapter 19, Joe Couture (Athabaska University) outlines the orientation and strategy of the Elders who work with Aboriginal offenders. Chapter 20 by Kelley Blanchette (Correctional Service of Canada) discusses effective correctional practice with women offenders. Finally, Chapter 21 by Claude Tellier and Ralph Serin (Correctional Service of Canada) highlights the contribution that staff makes in the delivery of effective correctional services.

Part Three -- Evaluation

This section of Compendium 2000 provides evaluation guidelines for criminal justice policy makers, correctional administrators and program staff. In Chapter 22, Gerry Gaes (United States Federal Bureau of Prisons) provides guidelines for asking the right questions and communicating results. Then, Laurence Motiuk (Correctional Service of Canada), in Chapter 23, addresses why correctional outcome is so difficult to measure and tries to show how we can measure it as best we can. Ralph Serin (Correctional Service of Canada), in Chapter 24, examines intermediate measures of program effectiveness. Chapter 25, by Paul Gendreau, Claire Goggin, and Paula Smith (University of New Brunswick), describes how meta-analyses can help inform correctional service providers and policy-makers. Then, James McGuire (University of Liverpool), in Chapter 26 describes a program logic model of program effectiveness. Finally, Chapter 27 by Shelley Brown (Correctional Service Canada) explores cost-benefit analysis as it applies to effective correctional treatment.

Part Four -- Inventory of Correctional Programs

Using a standard protocol, the Research Branch surveyed the Federal/Provincial Territorial jurisdictions regarding their correctional programs. The purpose of the survey was to provide an up-to-date inventory of all programs, both institutional and community-based, with an emphasis on effective programming. The survey incorporated program descriptions; development and evaluation; assessments of treatment need; and where applicable, outcome and/or financial data. This information can be used to determine the status of certain types of programs in different jurisdictions, to facilitate information exchange, and to assist in treatment planning for offenders throughout their involvement with the criminal justice system.

Part Five -- Best Practices

Again, using a standard protocol, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial jurisdictions were invited to submit specific programs that they wished to highlight as a best practice.

The Deliverable

Compendium 2000 on Effective Correctional Programming provides a comprehensive and critical appraisal of the empirical literature in the field of corrections and behaviour change. More importantly, it provides new knowledge on program effectiveness, an overview of existing programs in Canadian correctional jurisdictions, and guidelines for evaluating operations and policy in the area of correctional programs.

1 340 Lauier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P9.

2 Statistics Canada. (1996). Adult Correctional Services in Canada 1994-95. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centr for Justice Statistics.

3 Corrections Population Growth. (1997). First Report on Progress for Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Justice. Fredricton, New Brunswick.


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