According to Faulkner (136-137), the need for correctional institutions to rehabilitate offenders has been highlighted by the increasing cost of operations as well as recidivism statistics indicating that majority of offenders escalate in crimes committed and the lack of social participation or integration released offers are able to attain upon release (Hepburn & Griffin, 57-59). This perspective suggests that rehabilitation is linked to offenders’ productive and social potential.
At the same time, Holmes (9) believes that the relationships and competencies developed by the offender during incarceration can serve as foundation for social reintegration and long-term rehabilitation. Thus many correctional facilities such as the Northeastern Correctional Center, have undertaken programs that are designed to better equip offenders upon their release by engaging them in the institutions’ kitchen crew (Terris). Their objective is not only educating inmates in the food trade industry for possible employment but also to reinforce social bonds and self-development (Hepburn & Griffin, 63-66).
Background Terris points out that the programs is neither novel nor unique to the Northeastern Correctional Center. However, unlike general kitchen duties, inmates mentored in the institution’s Fife and Drum restaurant based on methods from the Culinary Institute of America by its head chef Eddie Jacobs. When the program started in 1983, the objective was to educate participants in the preparation of economical meals but since then has evolved into popular and even fine dining cuisine.
Furthermore, according to the program’s managers, participation in the program provides participants practical and commercial skills that have stable demand and daily applications. The program has had achieved success both from the perspective of prison administrators and inmates. According to the former, the programs do not only engage significantly the interest of participating inmates but has also been enhancing the responsiveness and participation of non-participating inmates in existing programs.
Terris also relates insights from participating inmate Idris Forde: Forde believes that his in working in the Fife according to “real world” scenarios reinforces the value of work as well as their role in the operation of an enterprise and in turn, their ability to become productive and benefits not only the Northeastern Correctional Center but also all other stakeholders of the institution. Evaluation According to Currie (185-187), studies of repeat offenders, return to criminal behavior is inversely related to the level of social integration and productivity upon reentry to society.
Thus, establishment of programs enhancing inmates’ competency, productivity and social participation have the potential of decreasing the risks of recidivism. This opinion is also supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Their research indicated that the use of social reinforcement, whether in the form of social exclusion, direct support or mentoring and competencies or skills development, decreases susceptibility to criminal behavior by increasing the personal and social risks of re-incarceration.
There is no doubt that there has been greater realization of the role of correctional facilities in rehabilitation, which in contemporary perspectives implies successful reintegration and limiting recidivism. However, it should also be noted that undertaking such a program has also significant challenges. In the case of the Northeastern Correctional Center, their relatively small population and their prison classification, allow for better margins for such programs. In the case of high-risk facilities which may be in lockdown except for a few hours a day, implementing the program is unlikely.
Furthermore, the availability of instructors or mentors for the programs is also a consideration. Moreover, prison programs and objectives have to be evaluated if they are consistent with such perspectives. Otherwise, such penal reforms can not be effectively applied or implemented as an operational directive for correctional institutions. Recommendations One of the first tasks to establish the significance of the success of the Fife program is to compare its level of success to similar programs in other correctional or rehabilitation facilities.
A range to determine the degree of effectiveness has to also be established to map the competency or effectiveness of the programs. The next task is to identify the common components or strategies of the best programs which can then be utilized to compose requirements for programs that are to be developed. Regardless of the content, there should be sensitivity towards the constraints of implementation based on prison population, modality of offenses and psychiatric evaluation.
Ironically, there should also be realization that despite the level of input or statistical relevance of programs outlines or requirements, there is still a need for frequent sensitivity analyses to accommodate the variety of stakeholders and degree public concern afforded such initiatives. In conclusion, despite the level of success that the Northeastern Correctional Center has achieved in its kitchen program, there is still a need to evaluate its long term effectiveness and level application efficiency to determine the critical components for wider application and implementation.