Desistance-Focused Criminal Justice Practice
12. Deterrence-Based Approaches
One particular deterrence-based approach—referred to as “swift, certain, and fair” (SCF) supervision—could be classified as a negative contingency management program. SCF supervision forces external behavioral compliance by providing immediate and consistently delivered, yet moderate, sanctions for noncompliance and rules violations. This theoretically translates into long-term desistance through behavioral patterning, with or without internalized change. It harkens back to desistance mechanisms targeted toward speeding up the “bottoming out” process and allowing individuals to fake it until they make it. SCF programs have been implemented in both community corrections contexts and prisons, with some evidence of success (Hawken & Kleiman, 2009; Hamilton et al., 2016). In substance abuse treatment, this approach has been referred to as “coerced abstinence.”
13. Procedural Justice Approaches
The “fair” component in SCF supervision relates to another mechanism of desistance called “procedural justice” (Tyler, 2003). The idea is that individuals will be more responsive to criminal justice intervention if they perceive that it will be delivered in a procedurally fair manner. Tus, procedural justice could increase desistance. Again, jurisdictions should think creatively about how to reinforce procedural justice and perceived legitimacy. At a basic level, taking input from persons who are incarcerated seriously should increase perceived legitimacy. Correctional systems should establish a procedure to allow them to report perceived unfair treatment. To increase procedural justice, jurisdictions should also work to reduce unfair practices that result from inefficiencies in the system. For example, parole boards in many systems face delays in interviewing candidates for parole once they become eligible and delays in physically releasing those who have received parole approval. These delays can lead to frustrations with the system that carry into the community and impede desistance. In addition to improving parole and release processing, systems should establish fair procedures for reviewing and adjudicating charges of institutional misconduct. Procedural justice has implications for many aspects of the criminal justice system, which, in turn, may affect desistance.