Correctional aspects of the career criminal program

by Joan R. Petersilia

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Examines the prison experience of career criminals to determine whether they should be selectively handled by correctional institutions. If career criminals have unique treatment needs, participate less in treatment programs, and contribute disproportionately to institutional infractions, the federal government could justifiably expand its Career Criminal Program into the corrections system. On the basis of corrections records and an inmate questionnaire of 1300 inmates in California, Michigan, and Texas, the author concludes that career criminals do not differ significantly from the general prison population in need for or participation in treatment programs. First-term, younger inmates commit more serious and frequent infractions than career criminals. Thus, the evidence provides no justification for a correctional career-criminal program. Rather, the author suggests, such a program would cause additional difficulties in prison management. The paper presents statistical information on career criminals' need for, participation in, and assessments of treatment programs.

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