In traditional community corrections frameworks, agencies utilise the tactic of “fortress supervision”, whereby the officers are located in offices and the offenders must report to these locations (Pew Center on the States, 2008). Sadly, this setup fails to help officers understand the criminogenic circumstances that offenders are vulnerable to (Schaefer, Cullen, & Manchak, 2017). Officers are likely very unfamiliar with how offenders spend their time: where they go, what they do, and who they spend time with. A brief case management meeting is simply insufficient to understand the offender’s life. Additionally, fortress supervision limits the influence that officers can have on their clients, as there is surely a very small deterrent effect for those individuals who recognise that their supervisor is not routinely supervising their behaviour (Cullen, Eck, & Lowenkamp, 2002). Although the officer has some authority to monitor the offender (e.g., drug tests, electronic monitoring, collateral checks), the vast majority of an offender’s actions go unsupervised by community corrections agents. As such, it is in the best interest of probation and parole officers to consider how they can serve as a more constant presence in offenders’ lives, whereby outcomes of choices (positive or negative) are swift and certain (Executive Session on Community Corrections, 2017); this is how psychological conditioning occurs. The goal is for community-supervised offenders to regularly think of their order (far more than the 15 minutes or so that they may spend in their designated community corrections office), including the benefits of compliance and the consequences of misbehaviours. Ideally, community corrections agencies want to extend the invisible arm of control that they have over offenders’ lives beyond the confines of the office itself (Cullen et al., 2002; Schaefer et al., 2017; Western & Schiraldi, 2017).
Posted on by Kelly Smith