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Title: Parole and recidivism : a realist-inspired evaluation
Author: Levy, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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The aim of this study was to test the notion that the experience of being released from prison on parole reduces the risk of reoffending. The method was to apply the principles of 'scientific realist' evaluation to test four theories about how parole might be responsible for reducing the risk of recidivism among a small sample of paroles interviewed over the course of their licence periods. The four theories tested were that: the support and advice of a supervising social worker helps parolees to address offending-related behaviour and reduces the motivation or need to reoffend; the threat of recall to custody deters parolees from reoffending; regular surveillance from a supervising social worker increases the perceived risks that a return to offending will be detected and hence deters reoffending and finally that being selected by the Parole Board as deserving early release increases self-efficacy and gives parolees the encouragement and confidence to succeed on release. It was hoped that the study would make some contribution not only to the debate about the future of parole but also to the debate about how best to conduct evaluative research. Although the application of realist techniques provided some valuable insights into the parole experience, it provided no support for the notion that the conditions of the licence reduced the risk of recidivism. It was clear that the context in which many of the subjects were released was simply not conductive to the operation of the mechanisms outlined and, where the context was conductive, there was little or no evidence of a correlation between this and a reduction in the risk of reoffending. In considering the future of parole, the conclusion reached is that parole should be replaced with a reduction in the length of custodial sentences. In terms of the contribution of scientific realism, the study demonstrated that, while there were some important advantages of applying realist principles, there is little difference in the logic applied to test causality in this type of project and the logic applied in traditional experimental/quasi-experimental evaluations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available