From 1995 to 2001, the number of Kansas parolees who were returned to prison for technical violations increased by 40 percent, twice the national average.
Technical violations are infractions that are not illegal, but violate the conditions of their parole.
By 2000, the number of returning prisoners was 50 percent of all admissions.
Ethan Amidon, assistant professor of criminology at Missouri State University, researches how the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) seeks to address the issue of failed prisoner reentry by engaging in organizational reform. Reentry refers to the process of parolees making the transition from prison back into their communities.
Recently accepted for publication in Criminology, the top-ranked academic journal in his field, Amidon collaborated with two other professors to focus on agency-wide organizational change in Kansas.
The article, “When Policy Comes to Town: Discourses and Dilemmas of Implementation of a Statewide Reentry Policy in Kansas,” explores the challenges involved with organizational change from the perspective of the KDOC.
Specifically, the research focuses on the verbal effort KDOC staff used to resist organizational changes associated with a shift in philosophy from risk containment to risk reduction.
Risk containment focuses on surveillance, enforcement and incarceration. Risk reduction emphasizes rehabilitation, service delivery and prisoner re-integration.
“I enjoyed listening to the perspectives of the staff of the KDOC surrounding the implementation of the new reentry policy,” said Amidon, who assisted with conducting 254 interviews of staff at the KDOC. “I found how they have navigated the large-scale change in policy from ‘risk containment’ to ‘risk reduction’ to be particularly interesting.”
The research features a collaboration among Drs. Donald Stemen, associate professor at Loyola University Chicago, Andres Rengifo, associate professor at Rutgers University and Amidon.
The article describes how challenges to the reforms reflect individuals’ positions within the organization, the local contexts in which they operate and more general frames of interpretation of the KDOC.
About the publication
Criminology is a periodical published by Wiley and supported by the American Society of Criminology (ASC). The journal is widely renowned as an industry standard in the field of criminal justice studies.
The ASC is an international organization concerned with criminology and embracing scholarly, scientific and professional knowledge concerning the analysis, prevention, control and treatment of crime and delinquency.