The Use of Prison Confinement in the Treatment of Drunk Drivers Essay

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The Use of Prison Confinement in the Treatment of Drunk Drivers

Researcher Daniel LeClair (1988) in journal Federal Probation discusses the implications of treating drunk drivers by incarcerating them. Drunken driving accidents are a significant public health risk, and a large number of people die, or are seriously injured in accidents involving drunk drivers each year. In the 1980’s groups such as Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) began to question what was being done to stop people from driving while intoxicated (p. 46).

The Use of Prison Confinement in the Treatment of Drunk Drivers focuses on the following 12 statements/questions:
1. Prepare a descriptive statement that clearly and concisely identifies the author’s area of research interest.

According to LeClair (1988) as groups such as MADD, began to do research in the area of drunken driving accidents using an explanatory scientific research on the notion of cause and effect of drunken driving (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005). MADD found that the statistics summary (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005) indicates that there are many drunk drivers rather than being one time offenders, habitually were caught driving while intoxicated. Researchers also found that many states did little, or nothing to protect the public from drunk drivers, and that restrictions as they stood in the 1980’s did little to deter people from driving while intoxicated (LeClair, 1988, p. 46).

LeClair (1988) performed a study in which he looked at the effectiveness of the Longwood Center, a rehabilitation program in Boston Massachusetts. By asking questions, making observations, and examining written records (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005) were used to collect the criminal justice data.

Also, Program Evaluation Model by providing feedback within a social system (LeClair, 1988, p. 47), he found that treating people convicted of Operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol, rehabilitation program was more cost effective, and useful in preventing further drunken driving incidents than merely incarcerating third time DUI offenders in overcrowded prison confinement. The results of this program evaluation proved to be a boon to the state of Massachusetts as they have encouraged courts to assign OUI offenders to rehabilitation rather than imprisonment as a means of punishment.

2. Identify the study’s specific research question(s).

The primary question asked by LeClair (1988) in this research study was whether confining drunk drivers from Massachusetts in state run rehabilitation services or being in prison would prove to be a more effective method of treatment than confining them in prison upon their third DUI offense?

However, the study’s specific research questions by LeClair (1988) are:
(a.) is the program being implemented as planned?
(b.) Has the program been directed at the appropriate and specific target of population? (c.) Is the program effective in achieving its intended goals and objectives?
(d.) Is the program able to achieve its goals and objectives at a reasonable cost? (p. 48).
3. Evaluate the degree of work that the author of the study has done in terms of reviewing the literature available on the topic selected; give specific examples of where this work was exhibited.

LeClair (1988) found slight researches in existing literature at that time to support his research study as the area of treating people guilty of operating under influence (OUI). It was rather new at that time, and not much experimentation had been performed in that field. LeClair had done very little to address even the literature that he did mention in this study, and primarily seems to rely upon his knowledge of the Massachusetts State Corrections System, and the Longwood Correctional Facility where he performed the study.

4. Describe the type of research design used and, if appropriate, the type of research that was carried out.

LeClair’s (1988) researches involved the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs developed by the state of Massachusetts. He chose to use Program Evaluation as a research method. This research method is commonly used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs in the Human Services, Criminal Justice, and Educational fields. According to LeClair (1988), program evaluations achieve the goals that it sets up for itself. Program evaluation looks at all the aspects including the budget, staff, procedures, policies and other aspect of the program.

The type of research that was carried out by LeClair (1988) was Explanatory Scientific Research which centers on the notion of cause and effect (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005). LeClair (1988) specifically did focus on documentation regarding how the program was set up, and observed how the Longwood Center operated on a daily basis. LeClair (1988) interviewed clients, and staff members in a structured manner of environment, and analyzed background information regarding clients who participated in the programs. Then, LeClair (1988) performed a cost analysis of the program, and observed the final outcomes pertaining to clients’ involvement in the Longwood Center drunken driving incidents.

5. Identify the principal study variables and for each variable identify the theoretical and operational definitions provided by the author. The principal variable in this study was the ability of the Longwood program to rehabilitate drunk drivers to the extent that they will have any further prison confinement for drunken driving. According to LeClair (1988), rehabilitation means that the clients should stop drinking for preventing further accidents caused by drunken driving.

Another principal variable was the ability of the Longwood program to relieve overcrowding in the prison confinement by giving those convicted of multiple OUI. And, overcrowded prison is defined as a prison operating at more than ¼ over its maximum residential capacity. This can also be defined as more than three prisoners in a single prison cell, or prisoners being housed in gymnasiums and common areas (LeClair, 1988).

6. Describe the type(s) of data collection techniques utilized: experiment, survey, field, and/or utilization of existing data sources. LeClair (1988) asked questions, made observations, and examined written records as sampling techniques for descriptive or exploratory studies of the organization (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005).

LeClair (1988) utilized specialized interviews of clients, and employees in order to determine if the perspectives of the clients regarding the effectiveness of the Longwood programs differed from the perspectives of employees regarding the effectiveness of the program base on the offenders. LeClair (1988) used pre-existing archival data such as, patient’s records, program goals and objectives, and statistical records regarding the programs success rate in order to analyze the cost effectiveness and efficiency of the Longwood program.

7. Describe the sampling techniques utilized by the researcher.

Because this was a program evaluation, it really did not have an experimental sample. What it required was for LeClair (1988) to choose a program to evaluate which met the requirements of his research questions. He used Probability Sampling Method to provide a way of selecting samples that will represent the whole; Simple Random Sampling in which the units composing a population are assigned numbers; Snowball sampling where he accumulated subjects through chains of referrals; Purposive sampling where he selected specific elements of a population (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005). However, statistical data were not mentioned, only the results were mentioned.

8. Identify the unit(s) of analysis.

The units of analysis represented are not obvious, because agencies typically use different units of count to record information about people and cases (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005). In that case, LeClair (1988) used the Agency Records and Content Analysis in the study of records as the units of analysis. Content Analysis is a research method appropriate for studying human communications, the group to be analyzed and/or the organization (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005).

9. State the author’s testable hypothesis or hypotheses.

There was a single primary hypothesis for LeClair’s evaluation of the Longwood Centers’ rehabilitation program. LeClair (1988) hypothesized that treating offenders in public rehabilitation facilities would be more effective in preventing drunken driving accidents than incarcerating DUI offenders in the Massachusetts State Correctional System.

10. Identify the principal dependent and independent variables.

Three basic requirements to determine a causal relationship in scientific research are: (1) The independent variable must occur before the dependent variable, (2) the independent and dependent variables must be empirically related to each other, and (3) the observed relationship cannot be explained away as the effect of another variable (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005).

The independent variable in this program evaluation was Longwood Rehabilitation Center’s program for treating DUI offenders. This program worked with offenders in dealing with their drug and alcohol problems in order to assist them in realizing that their actions were against the law, and in preventing further DUI offenses on the part of the offender. The dependent variable was the success, or failure of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation process (LeClair, 1988).

11. Identify possible issues of validity, reliability, and generalizability that appear in the research processes. The main strength in regards to validity and reliability in this study was the fact that LeClair used well-established research, and data collection and analysis methods. However, LeClair (1988) failed to present any statistical analysis that he used in order to compare the Longwood facility with other rehabilitation facilities utilized by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. He also failed to represent in table form or appendix form any of the results that were discussed in that program evaluation.

As most of the public rehabilitation facilities in Massachusetts were based upon the same kind of goals and objectives. This study is generalizable to other programs in the state of Massachusetts. However, each state has different guidelines regarding how they run their state funded rehabilitation programs. Also, each state has different DUI laws on the books, and offenders are punished in different ways. This means that while this study is generalizable in some ways, the generalizability is strictly limited to facilities in the state of Massachusetts.

12. Identify the possible policy implications of the research findings presented in the study. What did this study determine and why is it important to correctional policy and practice?

Evaluation research and policy analysis are examples of applied research in criminal justice that were used by LeClair to get the findings (Maxfield & Babbie, 2005). According to LeClair (1988), the results of this study indicated that treating DUI offenders in alcohol rehabilitation facilities could be an effective means by which to prevent drunk driving rather than incarcerating them in state prisons. Educational programs and rehabilitation programs relieve overcrowded prisons and educate offenders about the dangers of drunken driving. LeClair (1988) found that the public programs were not only effective but also, much cost efficient than incarcerating prisoners.

There are many implications that were implied in the results of this study. First, is the fact that rehabilitation is a better long-term solution than incarceration? Once an offender had been incarcerated, they are more likely to end up in the prison system again. Second, treating a person once for alcoholism is more cost effective than incarcerating them repeatedly for the same offense.

In the end, this saves both the state and the federal government money. Another implication for this study is that alcoholics who have been convicted for a third time of DUI will receive treatment that they desperately need in order to avoid being imprisoned for offenses that are more serious in the future. Finally, LeClair’s (1988) work will lead to wider opportunities for DUI offenders to receive treatment rather than crowding already overcrowded prison systems.

References
LeClair, Daniel, P. The Use of Prison Confinement in the Treatment of Drunken Drivers. Federal Probation (December, 1988), 46-52
Maxfield, Michael, and Babbie, Earl. Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 4th Ed. Wadsworth Thomson Publishing, Belmont CA, 2005

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