We’ve compiled top highlights from IACFP events, international research, and world news for our March/April IACFP International News summary. Our topics include IACFP Board and leadership updates, notable research relevant to practitioners, and international topics of interest.
1. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CORRECTIONAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY UPDATES
- The IACFP Board met on 21 and 28 January and 25 February 2021 to complete their planning for 2021. Jeffrey Pfeifer, President, led the meetings; there was 100% participation by the board. The priority projects of the board continue to be:
- International Correctional Mental Health Leadership Network;
- Community Corrections Project to advance research;
- Enhancing the quality of and member engagement with the bi-monthly e-newsletter; and
- An international association in focus and practice.
- Previously, bridging research to practice had been a goal. It is now a principle built into all the work of IACFP. The Board has activated the IACFP Membership Committee and added two new ad-hoc committees (i.e., Framework for Partnerships and Advocacy). If you are interested in serving on a committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Starting With Girls and Their Resilience in Mind: Reconsidering Risk/Needs Assessments for System-Involved Girls, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Volume 48 Issue: 5, pages 596-616, first published online 6 January 2021. Linsey A. Belisle, Emily J. Salisbury
The experience of practitioners and the research have clearly identified many of the differences between boys and girls in the juvenile justice system. This article focuses on the surprising fact that there are currently no gender-responsive risk/needs assessments for system-impacted girls. The unfortunate result is that juvenile justice agencies have been limited to the use of gender-neutral risk/needs assessments.
This fascinating article examines commonly used gender-neutral risk/needs assessments and illustrates how these instruments are not truly “neutral.” The authors argue that predictive validity is not enough to demonstrate effectiveness; these tools can harm and possibly discriminate against girls by placing them in similarly labeled risk categories (i.e., high, medium, low) as boys, despite engaging in less delinquency. Practitioners and juvenile justice leaders, even when having the best of intentions, have force-fit girls into assessments (and often programs) developed primarily for boys. The authors state that this results in the over- and misclassification of girls’ risk and fails to capture their gendered needs and resilience.
The authors include a “Call to Action” and provide recommendations that should be considered by not only researchers but also juvenile justice leaders and advocates.
- They state, “…we cannot simply assume that risk/needs assessment are the most appropriate way to assess girls.” Their recommendation is to explore the possibility of multi- and cross-cultural resilience measures.
- Future risk and risk/need assessment research needs to include larger samples of justice-involved girls.
“Not every scientific finding for men/boys is generalizable across gender and sex. Failure to develop practices from the ground up with girls in mind further perpetuates patriarchal knowledge production that has persisted for decades in our field (Van Voorhis, 2012). It would mean continuing to overlook and ignore girls, subjecting them to potentially harmful, discriminatory, and unequal treatment. Girls in the juvenile justice system have historically been afterthoughts and remained invisible (Chesney-Lind & Shelden, 2014), as researchers, academics, and practitioners, we have an ethical responsibility to change this.”
- A Meta-Analysis of Police Response Models for Handling People With Mental Illnesses: Cross-Country Evidence on the Effectiveness, International Criminal Justice Review, first published online 11 December 2020. Chunghyeon Seo, Bitna Kim, Nathan E. Kruis
There is a growing body of empirical research that has investigated the effectiveness of police response models for handling the mentally ill (PRMHMI) in various countries; however, the studies have disproportionately focused on findings from research testing the effects of the crisis intervention team in the United States. The last newsletter summarized one of these studies.
This research is intended to explore whether PRMHMI can be considered as “evidence-based” models on the international level. It compares the effectiveness of the PRMHMI operating in the United States to those operating in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Liberia.
The study’s results need to be interpreted with caution. Current studies showed little evidence to support that PRMHMI models being used in the United States are having substantive effects on objective outcome measures. Overall, there is a general lack of research in non-U.S. countries. While not much research has been done in non-American countries, in the twelve studies that were found, results suggested more effective police response models for handling encounters with persons who suffer from mental illness. Most of these models were co-response models.
Finally, the study results demonstrate the importance of a national context for designing, implementing, and evaluating PRMHMI. Neither local culture nor sociopolitical environments have been examined in the studies reviewed for the meta-analysis.
- Criminological Highlights, Vol. 19, No. 2, February 2021
View this issue as a PDF: CrimHighlightsV19N2.pdf
This issue of Criminological Highlights addresses the following questions:
- What do we know about the relationship between firearms ownership and fatal violence?
- What kinds of jobs can Black, White, and Hispanic prisoners expect to find in their first year after release from prison?
- Does any kind of employment reduce the likelihood of reoffending for those released from prison?
- How does a period of high imprisonment have an impact on imprisonment rates decades later?
- Does existing research support the investment by police services in body-worn cameras?
- What can happen when police ask a question during the interrogation of a suspect that assumes an unproven fact?
- Does the mandatory arrest of suspects in domestic violence incidents reduce their subsequent offending?
- Why is the criminal justice system in some jurisdictions becoming more punitive toward those convicted of sex offences?
- “The Radical idea to reduce crime by policing less, not more”
Josh Jacobs’ article in Wired explores evidence-based policing. It includes a brief description of various experiments. One example is “Checkpoint” in Durham, North Carolina, which has employed the Harm Assessment Risk Tool. Jacobs interviews Professor Lawrence Sherman, Director, of the Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues. The article points out both the pros and cons of experimental policing and some surprising results so far.
3. INTERNATIONAL TOPICS OF INTEREST
- Prison Service Journal 253
The focus of the Prison Service Journal — March 2021 is a special edition entitled, “Responding to the coronavirus pandemic”. The journal is published by HM Prison Service. This issue focuses on the different perspectives and experiences of prison staff, prison inspectors, families of prisoners, and prisoners themselves. It includes articles that highlight experiences in the United Kingdom, Mexico City, Romania, Sierra Leone, and Chile. The journal can be accessed here.
- Prisons and Prisoners in Europe in Pandemic Times: An evaluation of the medium-term impact of the COVID-19 on prison populations
The Council of Europe and the University of Lausanne launched a project last year to measure the impact of COVID-19 on prison populations in Europe. The first report was summarized in an earlier newsletter. The second Space Report looks at prison populations over four data points during the last year. It summarizes the trends in prison populations and found three factors that have influenced the trends:
- Decrease in the activities of the criminal justice system;
- Release of inmates as a preventive measure; and
- Lockdowns produced a crime drop.
The authors noted that the stable and decreasing populations trends had been reversed during Summer and without lockdowns.
14th United Nations Congress of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
The 14th Crime Congress was held 7 to 12 March 2021 in Kyoto, Japan. Due to COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions, the original planning for it was re-scheduled from 2020 to 2021. The final Congress was a hybrid to insure everyone’s health and safety. Over 5000 individuals participated in the Congress, representing 152 Member States, 114 non-governmental organizations, 37 intergovernmental organizations, and 600 individual experts. The Congress opened with the adoption of the Kyoto Declaration. When the President of the Congress, Ms. Kamikawa Yoko, Minister of Justice, Japan, gave her closing statement, she emphasized the need for engaging in multi-stakeholder partnerships to prevent and combat crime.
Additional information and video on the Congress can be found here.