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Justice Policy Journal - Volume 10, Number 1 - Spring 2013

(ISSN 1530-3012)


From the editor

By Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D. and Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D.

From the Editors

Welcome to the latest issue of Justice Policy Journal! Once again, we’ve got a great selection of stimulating and engaging material that looks at justice policy from the juvenile system to the adult, and from the U.S. all the way to Nigeria. 

The three articles that start this issue all look at an often-overlooked side of criminal and juvenile justice policy, and that is the staff, volunteers and others who participate in programs that are outside the traditional confines of legal institutions.  Marcus-Antonio Galeste, Sonia Munoz-Duran, and Connie Estrada Ireland start off the issue with their articled titled “Residential Substance Abuse Aftercare Treatment: A Multisite Examination of Structure, Goals and Staff.”  Galeste, Munoz-Duran and Ireland provide an evaluation of a substance abuse treatment program in California that serves paroled individuals who are mandated to participate.  While many studies have focused on those who receive such treatment, the authors study is unique because if focuses on the organizational structure and its impact on client success.  The authors found that structural weaknesses in terms of communication, conflicting goals and inconsistent program and staff certification impacted the success rates of those in treatment.  While the authors’ recognize that there are often individual barriers to treatment success, any future evaluation of drug treatment also has to take into account the organization structures that shape these programs and their successes (or lack thereof). 

Andrew Denney and Richard Tewksbury continue the trend with their article looking at the “Motivations and the Need for Fulfillment of Faith-Based Halfway House Volunteers.”  Denney and Tewksbury’s article provides a case study of volunteers at a faith-based halfway house for people recently released from prison.  They examine what drives people to volunteer and what they perceive as the reward for their work.  Uniquely, Denny and Tewksbury find that faith-based programs and volunteers do not always emphasize the religious aspects of their participation, but instead derive fulfillment from the transparent and open space of the halfway house itself.  Volunteers often even perceive greater benefits for themselves than those who are mandated to live in the program. 

Iyabode Ogunniran also looks at diversion programs, but this time from the perspective of penal policy change in Nigeria in the article titled “The Lock and Key Phenomenon: Reforming the Penal Policy for Child Offenders in Nigeria.”  Ogunniran describes how Nigeria overhauled its juvenile justice policies in order to encourage the use of diversion, especially for minor offenders.  Despite this overhaul, Ogunniran notes that diversion programs often fall short of their promises, often because of challenges in their implementation or the disconnect between institutional conditions and diversion premises.  Ogunniran concludes that any meaningful reform would need to see the diversion net widened over custodial measures. 

Finally, the issue ends with a thought provoking article by James LaValle titled “‘Gun Control’ vs. ‘Self-Protection’: A Case against the Ideological Divide.”  LaValle writes that recent events of mass gun killings have resulted in the entrenchment of an ideological divide between gun control and personal protection advocates.  Neither gun control nor personal protection measures however are designed to protect against the high-profile killings that have grabbed the U.S. public’s attention in recent months, and thus, he argues that modification of existing gun laws is necessary to effectively prevent future mass killings. 

Happy reading!

Elizabeth Brown and Randall Shelden

Residential Substance Abuse Aftercare Treatment: A Multisite Examination of Structure, Goals, and Staff

By Marcus-Antonio Galeste, Sonia Munoz-Duran, and Connie Estrada Ireland

The availability of substance abuse treatment programs has continued to decline despite the rising number of inmates incarcerated for drug-related offenses.  Evaluating these programs is important to the legitimacy of drug treatment; however, the extant literature gives little attention to organizational structure and its impact on client success.  The current study applies organizational theory to provide a conceptual understanding of how structure, goals, and staff can affect the delivery of treatment.  This case study utilizes a sample of interviews (N=92) from residential aftercare treatment providers in California serving parolees participating in a mandatory substance abuse treatment aftercare program, known as the Senate Bill 1453 program.  Analysis revealed structural weaknesses that led to communication issues relative to the receipt of medical information, client assessments, and program eligibility.  Additionally, conflicting goals, and inconsistent program and staff certifications were evident.  This paper explores the impact that these organizational issues may have on treatment received by clients, such as successful completion or the effectiveness of treatment received.  The effectiveness of substance abuse treatment is directly reflected in policies that are created to address drug offenders, however, future research examining the effectiveness of these programs should recognize both organizational as well as individual elements to program success.

Motivations and the Need for Fulfillment of Faith-Based Halfway House Volunteers

By Andrew S. Denney and Richard Tewksbury

This case study examines the motivations and personal benefits of individuals who volunteer for a Protestant Christian faith-based halfway house for recently released offenders. Drawing on eight in-depth interviews with volunteers from a faith-based ministry located in a Southern U.S. city, the study examines why volunteers arrive to their positions and what they perceive as rewards of their work. Typically, volunteers report receiving more benefits themselves than they perceive offender clients receiving. Chief among perceived rewards are a transparent community in which volunteers could more safely share personal aspects of themselves than what they could experience elsewhere. This study provided valuable information to scholars, legislators, and correctional professionals by showing that faith-based ministries do not necessarily emphasizes the religious aspect of their program.

The Lock and Key Phenomenon: Reforming the Penal Policy for Child Offenders in Nigeria

By Iyabode Ogunniran

The legal and institutional frameworks for child offenders in Nigeria are punitive. The Children and Young Persons Law 1943 contains provisions with inadequate guidelines. Judges are granted wide discretionary powers in sentencing resulting in offenders being sent to custodial institutions with scarce infrastructure. Recognizing the need for a change, the Child Rights Act was enacted in 2003. It introduces the use of diversion, albeit for minor offences. This paper examines the challenges of using diversion. It proposes that diversion is workable against the backdrop of the nature of juvenile offending in Nigeria. There is also the issue of bifurcation, hence, apart from specified listed offences in the Act, all other offences can be deemed “minor”. Moreover, the paper canvasses the necessity of widening the use of other non custodial measures in the Act for any meaningful reform.

"Gun Control" vs. "Self-Protection": A Case against the Ideological Divide

By James M. La Valle

A recent string of vicious, senseless and tragic mass spree killings have propelled an intense re-appraisal of U.S. gun laws, but the ensuing dialogue amply demonstrates that the opposing sides of the gun policy debate are as firmly entrenched in their mutual opposition to one another as ever before (Washington, 2012). Those who favor stricter “gun control” axiomatically oppose “personal protection” (e.g., “right to carry”) strategies, whereas those who favor “personal protection” measures stridently oppose “gun control”. The present study compares statistically (N=1736) these two contrasting approaches according to the methodological recommendations published by a National Academy of Sciences Research Panel (Wellford, Pepper & Petrie, 2005), and the results provisionally suggest that “personal protection” (“right to carry”; henceforth “RTC”) laws may reduce both gun homicide rates and total homicide rates, whereas traditional “gun control” policies do not detectably effect either outcome. However, the present study also observes that neither type of measure was originally designed to protect the public against the presently emerging and more deadly threat posed by armed and mentally disturbed mass spree killers. Suggestions for the modification of existing gun measures to more effectively prevent future mass spree-killings are offered.           

Keywords: guns, housing, Nigeria, substance use, transitional, youth

Posted in Volume 10, Justice Policy Journal

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