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37 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1998)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj37 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard Journal Vol 37 No 1. Feb 98
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-15



        Attitudes, Social Problems and

          Reconvictions in the 'STOP'

                 Probation Experiment


                           PETER RAYNOR
       Professor, Department of Social Policy and Applied Social Studies,
                       University of Wales, Swansea


Abstract: Recent studies ofprobation's effectiveness have relied largely on reconvictions, but there
is widespread interest in other possible measures of impact (for example, on attitudes or on social
problems) which might provide more immediate and relevant evaluative information for
practitioners. This paper reviews information generated by the CRIME-PICS instrument in the
Mid Glamorgan 'STOP' experiment and compares it with reconviction data. Some relationships
are identified between components of CRIME-PICS scores and subsequent reconvictions. The
paper comments on the potential and feasibility of this kind of instrument in evaluation and
makes suggestions about future research.


                              Background

Can  community   sentences reduce  the tendency  of offenders to commit
crimes? The recent British revival of interest in this question has generated
a number  of evaluative studies which rely largely on reconviction rates as a
measure  of effectiveness or, in some cases, ineffectiveness (for example,
Raynor  and  Vanstone  1994; Wilkinson and  Morgan   1995; Roshier 1995;
Oldfield 1996; Richards 1996). Whilst reconviction rates are arguably the
most relevant available measure with which to address the public interest in
crime reduction, they also present a number of disadvantages (reviewed by,
among  others, Mair 1991; Mair and Nee  1992; Lloyd et al. 1994). For exam-
ple, they do not measure  reoffending; they are vulnerable to local differ-
ences in clear-up rates and prosecution practice; they need unpacking  to
study other outcomes  such as the seriousness of offences and the gravity of
the resulting sentences; they are sometimes difficult to ascertain; they often
include 'pseudo-reconvictions' representing offences committed before the
beginning  of the period under study but with court dates falling within the
relevant period; they require the inclusion of quite large numbers of offend-
ers in a study if comparisons are to be meaningful, and their use in evalua-
tion usually depends on knowing  what  reconviction rate would have been
likely in the absence of intervention, so that evaluation designs need to be
well controlled through the use of matched comparison  groups or reliable
baseline predictors of reconviction risk.

                                    1
V Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1998, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 IJF, UK
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

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