The Additive Effects of Participation in Multiple Correctional Interventions and Services for Federally Sentenced Men

Research Highlights

Other correctional interventions add to the impact of participation in correctional programs in reducing recidivism

Why we did this study

In the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), many services and interventions are provided to offenders to prepare them for release into the community in addition to correctional programs. It is important to examine the extent to which these services provide “additive effects”, that is, further improve the outcomes of offenders who participate in correctional programs. This study determined the relative contribution of key services and interventions to rates of return to custody with an offence for federally sentenced men.

What we did

The cohort for this study consisted of all federal men admitted to the custody of CSC between September 2009 and August 2013 who were released on day parole, full parole or statutory release prior to April 13th, 2013 (N=12,273).

The study examined whether additional services including institutional employment, educational programs, vocational certification, social programs, Aboriginal-specific services (for Aboriginal offenders), and maintenance programs added to the impact of participation in correctional programs.

The study controlled for key variables related to offending. First, interventions from several categories were added individually to the statistical model in addition to participation in correctional programs. Finally, all interventions found to significantly contribute to outcome were added together in the final model. A separate model was constructed for Aboriginal offenders.

What we found

The results are encouraging with respect to CSC’s overall approach to rehabilitation of offenders. In all the models explored, the combination of services and programs produced outcomes that significantly improved offenders’ odds of remaining in the community without an offence after release. The most promising programs are: 1) education programs, especially education programs that help offenders achieve close to a high school equivalent, 2) completed correctional interventions in the community (these reduced the hazard of returning to custody with an offence four-fold), 3) both regular visits and private family visits, and, 4) for Aboriginal offenders, the number of elder reviews. This was the strongest result among services offered specifically to Aboriginal offenders.

What it means

Because of the complexity of the modeling, the results should be considered as exploratory. Nevertheless, despite this caution, the research indicates that additional correctional services are associated with reduced returns to custody with an offence. This was the case even after controlling for factors related to offending and participation in correctional programs. Furthermore, multiple additional services are not redundant with one another. This suggests that there are several methods by which CSC works to reduce reoffending in addition to correctional programs, and it is this overall approach throughout offenders’ incarceration and community supervision that is contributing to public safety goals.

For more information

Wilton, G., Nolan, A.., & Stewart, L. (2015). The additive effects of participation in multiple correctional interventions and services for federally sentenced men (Research Report R-363). Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service of Canada.

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