We’ve compiled top highlights from news stories, research, and resources across the world in this month’s IACFP International News summary. Our topics for the beginning of 2021 include IACFP leadership updates, student research awards, updates from the International Mental Health Leadership Network, new research, and COVID resources for practitioners.
- Effective 1 January 2021, Jeffrey Pfeifer became the IACFP President and Frank Porporino moved to Past-President. The other members of the board’s executive committee are newly elected President-Elect, Sarah Shelton, Treasurer, Diane Williams, and Secretary, Richard Althouse. Jeffrey Metzner and Melvin Hinton were appointed to a second term on the board, and Javel Jackson was appointed to an at-large position on the board.
- Two new members have been appointed to the board: Emma Black Regan from Ireland and Gabriel Ong from Singapore. Their bios, as well as all those of the other board members, can be found here. There are now 14 members of the IACFP Board, and they represent six countries.
- The board will be holding two meetings in January 2021 to identify strategic priorities for the year and to allocate the resources to achieve them. The results of those meetings and a message from the president will appear in the next e-newsletter issue.
2. IACFP Student Research Awards
- In December 2020, the IACFP Board approved student research awards for Hannah Cortina and Nicole McKenna. Each student received a $2500 research award. They will each present an overview of their research in future e-Newsletters.
- The application process is open now for the 2021 student research awards. Additional information is available on the IACFP website. The deadline to submit an application is 1 March 2021; award decisions will be made by 15 April 2021.
3. IACFP International Mental Health Leadership Network
- The network held its first virtual meeting of the year in January. The topic for discussion was mitigating the negative impacts of the pandemic on the mental health well-being of staff and offenders in custody. Initial presentations were made by Gabriel Ong, Singapore Prison Service, and Beverly Echols, Texas—UTMB.
- The focus of the dialogue was on operational approaches that create a greater sense of safety, mental health strategies that support both staff and offenders, and enhancing resilience and morale, particularly for staff.
- Two challenges that were discussed in some depth were the impact of eliminating visitation and strategies that are working to mitigate the negative effects of no contact and the distribution of vaccines. There was consensus that this is a marathon. It requires taking action and leadership for the long-term.
- Criminological Highlights Vol. 19, No. 1 – December 2020
Criminological Highlights is published six times each year by the University of Toronto Criminology Department. You can view this issue as a PDF: CrimHighlightsV19N1.pdf
This issue of Criminological Highlights addresses the following questions (each question has a link to the one-page summary of the article embedded in it):
- What problems can be created for survivors of intimate partner violence by laws that require the reporting of child abuse and neglect to government authorities?
- Why do rape victims report their victimizations to the police, and why are their motivations important?
- How can the police and courts reduce, with almost no cost, the number of failures to appear in court?
- What is the effect of the presence of a drug court on overall court caseload?
- Is it meaningful that a psychometric test suggests that a prisoner has improved after treatment?
- Are community sanctions experienced as being lenient?
- Does experience in the criminal justice system undermine self-control in youths?
- Should we invest in more electronic monitoring?
- An interesting new resource is the focus at the Centre on critical perspective on justice and inequality. They are hosting a series on criminological and sociolegal dimensions of anti-Black racism, Indigenous peoples, and settler colonialism.
- At the time of publication of the e-Newlsetter they will have had two presenters:
- Dr. Yanilda María González (Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School) presented research on race, policing and democratization in Latin America.
- Dr. Ayodele Akenroye (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies) explored how new digital technologies, particularly videoconferencing technology, are radically changing the social landscape in which the judge as authoritative and the court as legitimate are stripped bare and subject to further interrogation. Videos of the presentation are linked to YouTube on their website.
5. COVID Resources
- A recent article from the Journal of Public Health on prison-led contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons in Ireland documents an excellent partnership approach. As we begin to think of our response to the pandemic as a marathon, contact tracing is an important contributor to the long-term management strategy for COVID in both the community and in prisons. This article provides not only a roadmap for implementing such a program but also the results in the Irish Prison Service.
Conclusion: “A partnership approach involving community public health expertise, QI (quality improvement) input and support and prison resources can provide an effective mechanism for contact tracing of COVID-19 cases within the vulnerable prison setting. As countries look to explore alternatives to stringent social distancing measures, in-prison CTTs (contact tracing teams) offer a potential solution to the significant resource burden of implementing contact tracing in prisons and other PPDs (prescribed places of detention).”
- Prison Policy Initiative published a recent study, Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread, which compared population density of incarcerated people in U.S. counties to the growth in COVID-19 cases in those counties over the summer of 2020. Comparisons were made of the impact on county caseloads from prison and jail populations in nearby counties. The highlights of the findings include:
- “At the county level: Over the summer of 2020, large prisons and jail populations within nonmetro counties (i.e., rural areas or those with small cities) directly contributed to higher COVID-19 caseloads in those counties.
- At the regional level: COVID-19 caseloads grew much more quickly over the summer among counties in greater economic areas containing large prisons and jails.
- At the national level: Mass incarceration led to more than half a million additional COVID-19 cases nationwide—or about 1 in 8 of all new cases—over the summer, including cases both inside and outside correctional facilities.”
These results can provide the impetus to take more action to 1) reduce populations within places of detention and 2)take other measures to prevent the spread of the virus, e.g., vaccinations available for prisoners based on the community equivalency.