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AN EXPLORATION OF BARRIERS TO OFFENDER REINTEGRATION: PROBATION AND PRISON OFFICER OPINIONS VS PUBLIC OPINION

Published onMay 11, 2022
AN EXPLORATION OF BARRIERS TO OFFENDER REINTEGRATION: PROBATION AND PRISON OFFICER OPINIONS VS PUBLIC OPINION
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Abstract

Stigmatization has been a major hindrance to successful reintegration of released offenders into the community primarily due to increased ostracism and anxiety of the wider community relative to recidivism and public security. In addition, the fear of reoffending has been extended to offender employability, housing, and resumption to learning institutions, as well as reconnecting with the community for personal and social growth. Consequently, probation and prison officers initiate different programs geared towards social reintegration to facilitate apposite transitioning of released offenders back to the community. This study, therefore, evaluated the position of the general public and probation and prison officers in driving successful reintegration of offenders by assessing their opinions and perceptions towards social reintegration to isolate barriers to successful social reintegration while reducing recidivism. A mixed-methods research guided by a pragmatist epistemological and ontological paradigm was conducted. In the process, a desktop search was carried out on online data repositories and journal databases to gather secondary quantitative and qualitative data, which was subjected to a systematic review. Following descriptive analysis on secondary quantitative data, and thematic analysis on secondary qualitative data, it was established that probation and prison officers opined the need to blend social reintegration programs with community initiatives, especially those that support offender employment and reemployment. Importantly, it was established that stigma is amplified by the potential of the higher number of released offenders to recidivate negatively affecting public safety and security.

Keywords: Offender, Reintegration, General public, Probation and prison officer, and Recidivism


Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Background

Offenders face stigma as they seek social adaptation back to the community, largely orchestrated by ostracism and fear of family and community at large for safety and reoffending (Chin and Dandurand, 2012). Cracknell (2021) noted that finding housing, employment, returning to learning institutions, and other social-economic initiatives towards personal and social development are a major challenge to the majority of released offenders. Consequently, as Quinn-Hogan (2021) noted, unless these released convicts receive help to counter and face these derailments, offenders are highly predisposed to increased risk of failed social reintegration, recidivism, reconviction, and ultimate social rejection. Different programs have been designed to facilitate social reintegration, some of which have resulted in successful transitioning into the society. Consequently, such successful social reintegration initiatives are recognized as primary objectives of various criminal justice systems (Richards, Death and McCartan, 2020). Colibaba et al. (2022) concurred with the perspective presented by Richards et al. (2020) intimating that the international human rights conventions that are legally formulated have been integrated in designing social reintegration programs and initiatives, with stakeholders across the criminal justice systems, including the general public and the probation and prison officials recognizing their significance. As evidenced, divergent opinions have emerged on the importance of social reintegration of offenders, and the significance of interventions in supporting reintegration as an approach towards prevention of crime and protection of the society.

1.2 Problem Statement

The largest fraction of offenders is challenged by social reintegration issues pertaining to community and family stigmatization, as well as ostracism (Berghuis, 2018). Similarly, Colibaba et al. (2022) concurred with the assertion adding that most of offenders are faced by negative connotations hampering their ability to find housing, secure employment, expand their formal education, and/or rebuild personal and social capital. While different studies have dwelled on barriers towards social reintegration of offenders (Chin and Dandurand, 2012; Quinn-Hogan, 2021), there is literature paucity on the prevailing perceptions of social reintegration programs by the probation and prison officers. Importantly, literature is scarce on the perceptions of general public towards their security following offender reintegration. This study, therefore, seeks to explore these opinions, and redefine approaches and successful drivers to social reintegration pointing out mechanisms against recidivism.

1.3 Aim and Objectives

1.3.1 Research Aim

The present study seeks to evaluate the role of opinions and perceptions of the general public, and probation and prison officers as drivers to offender reintegration.

1.3.2 Research Objectives


  1. To explore the opinions and perceptions of probation and prison officers on social reintegration of offenders.


  2. To explore the opinions and perceptions of the general public on social reintegration of offenders.


  3. To evaluate the barriers to successful social reintegration of offenders.

1.4 Research Questions


  1. What are the probation and prison officers’ opinions and perceptions towards social reintegration programs of offenders?


  2. What are the public’s opinions and perceptions linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety?


  3. What factors reinforce social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism?

1.5 Significance

The findings of the present study will be of benefit to released offenders, probation and prison officers, the general public, and policy makers. The study will assess and make recommendation apposite guidelines in established social reintegration programs. Moreover, the study seeks to build a positive perception on public safety as a key dimension of social reintegration of offenders. The developed perceptions and opinions will advise the identified key stakeholders on success factors towards offender reintegration isolating risk factors to address to mitigate recidivism. In addition, the results of the study form a contribution to literature expanding desistance and recidivism theories on offender reintegration.

1.6 Research Summary

This dissertation comprises of seven chapters. In chapter one, a background literature is developed introducing key concepts isolating the research problem. The chapter, further, outlines the research aim, objectives and the guiding questions. In chapter two, a review of literature is provided beginning with an elucidation of the theoretical framework followed by an empirical review critically comparing and contrasting findings in previous studies to isolate research gaps. In chapter three, materials used in gathering secondary data, including procedures for selection, analysis and interpretation are explored. In chapter four, data results are outlined following thematic analysis of the findings. In the fifth chapter, the present findings are evaluated relative to conclusions and inferences of previously reviewed literature to generate study implications. Chapter six outlines the conclusions together with recommendations and future avenues for research. Lastly, chapter seven is a critical reflection exploring lesson learnt, what could have been done differently, and the influence of the findings to future works.

Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents an insightful review of relevant literature relating to the examination of barriers to offender reintegration by exploring the opinion of the public and probation and prison officers. The life-course theory of recidivism is adopted as the foundational theoretical framework to inform and guide the study through the relevant constructs. Moreover, previous literature with variables and themes relating to the objective of study are put under empirical review summarizing findings, critically comparing and contrasting them to isolate gaps in literature. The chapter is concluded by describing the gap in literature that the research aims to fill through this inquiry.

2.2 Theoretical Framework

This study adopts the life-course theory of recidivism to limit the scope of information by putting focus on specific constructs and variables, and examining the specific framework that the investigator embraces to systematically analyse and interpret. The theory was introduced by Thornberry (1987) and further developed by Thornberry and Krohn (2005). This theory stipulates that the risk of recidivism is not uniform for all convicts and differs based on gender, age, personal characteristics of the released inmate, and duration that elapses after release (Resig et al., 2006). According to O'Connell et al. (2019), the life-course theory of recidivism equally demonstrates that the hazards and risks of recidivism vary depending on the inmate’s specific characteristics at the time of risk assessment.

While using this theoretical framework to inform research, Benda (2015) described the life-course theory of recidivism to represent attempts to fill gaps in the ideological differences existing amongst older criminal theories by incorporating variables from other disparate theoretical frameworks. Through the life-course theory of recidivism, Benda (2015) asserted that crime is a complex phenomenal and multidimensional in nature. On the other hand, Farrington (2020) agreed with Benda (2015) by postulating that through the integration of economic, social, ecological, and psychological factors in a comprehensive structure, the life-course theory of recidivism overcame the limitations of existing theories that were being criticized on reductionism grounds. In his view, various older criminal theories argued that a single casual variable was predominantly significant and highly regarded as the cause of criminal activities.

On the other hand, Kurlychek et al. (2017) demonstrated that the life-course theory of recidivism delinquencies that result from the acquired pro-social and anti-social behaviors brought by various protective and risks factors. These factors often include a wide range of psychological, biological, and social factors that have been considered in previous theories relating to recidivism (Kurlychek et al., 2017). However, Messer et al. (2016) opined that the life-course theory of recidivism is about synthesizing control, differentiation association theory, social learning, while also acknowledging the additional associated factors that are not integrated in the previous theories relating to crime. In essence, the theory of recidivism is the most appropriate for this research because it will account for the interactional interventions between various variables not acknowledged by other previous criminal theories.

2.3 Social Reintegration of Offenders

The social reintegration of offenders is the process of incorporating and resettling offenders released from rehabilitative and penal institutions back to the community, but with the supervision of a probation officer (Alvarez et al., 2018). Gul (2018) shared the view of Alvarez et al. (2018) demonstrating that inmates often confront a myriad of challenges such as financial, social, and psychological challenges during their post-release lives thus becoming major stumbling blocks for their successful adjustments and reintegration. Wang’eri (2018) complimented the sentiments of Gul (2018) documenting that some of the major challenges encountered by ex-offenders during their initial stages of social integration included homelessness, inability to find employment, lack of finances, discrimination due to criminal records, low education levels, harassment by law enforcers, and inability to find new friends. The review suggested that ex-inmates released from prison encounter various challenges that impact their social reintegration process that may result in recidivism.

In the examination of the relationship between family support and the ability for ex-offender to recidivate, Liu and Visher (2021) established that low family and partner support and shorter incarceration periods were possible determinants of reoffending among various inmates. Similarly, the findings of Ishola (2022) agreed with conclusions of Liu and Visher (2021) asserting that the families of released prisoners could result in criminogenic or inhibitory influences on the ex-inmate depending on the characteristics of the familial environment. Liu and Visher (2021) added that support from the families of inmates can protect them from recidivism while family relationships that are strained could result in more drug use. Garcia (2021) concurred with the observations of Liu and Visher (2021) intimating that family relationships and support structures have great impacts on the success or failure of ex-inmates to reintegrate. In a different study, Islam (2021) supported the findings of Garcia (2021) and Liu and Visher (2021) emphasizing that the families of inmates play vital roles in the process of reintegration and in the presence of negative family relations, the inmates were almost involved in recidivism. The findings presented argue the importance of family support for inmates who are released from prison as pivotal to reintegration in the society.

2.4 Perceptions of Offender Reintegration Programs

Holistic rehabilitative programming positively influenced ex-offenders’ ability to achieve sustainable social reintegration upon release from incarceration, thereby affecting public safety through the reduced threat of recidivism (Ravulo, 2019). Martin (2021) concurred with the viewpoint of Ravulo (2019) arguing that holistic approaches play vital roles in reducing recidivism rates among young offenders by proving a whole-of-family, whole-of-government, and whole-of-community approaches underpinned by social inclusion, social mobility, and social resilience. These findings suggest that the society is able to achieve holistic responses if collaboration is emphasized across communities. Notably, the conclusions of Neo et al (2021) were in agreement with Ravulo (2019) asserting that holistic programs are the most suitable for ex-inmates because their vocational skills, academic knowledge, and personal enrichments are developed. Evidently, the review suggested that the implementation of holistic reintegration programs is the most suitable for the holistic growth of offenders so that they are successful in various life aspects.

Faith-based rehabilitation programs for ex-offenders aid them by providing supportive environments for teaching and learning with the help of mentors (Nqoko, 2018). In this regard, these programs influence rehabilitation positively through spiritual growth and moral generation that helps them to reintegrate in the society. Martinez and Graf (2020) supported the finding of Nqoko (2018) asserting that unlike other programs that concentrate on skill-based treatments and successful reintegration, faith-based programs aid ex-offenders to successfully reintegrate in society by connecting them with God or other higher powers that reward them with a life of purpose. Moreover, Nelson (2018) added that when compared to ordinary programs, faith-based programs administer treatment programs that are more caring, provide various treatment modalities, and facilitated by individuals who are more caring. The presented review intuitions suggest that spirituality is a significant factor during rehabilitation of ex-offenders since it connects them with higher powers that later reward them with purposeful lives.

In the exploration of offender rehabilitation service perceived model of care and the impact on services and the lives of offenders, Carolan et al. (2021) demonstrated that individuals perceive reintegration programs as having potential to possess a range of positive impacts on ex-offenders. Kagunda (2021) shared the view of Carolan et al. (2021) asserting that the perception of ex-offenders often changes from negative to positive mindsets once they completed the reintegration programs and that the rehabilitation institutions were significant in reducing recidivism rates in communities. The assertions in the review suggest that community stakeholders towards reintegration programs play vital roles in the outcomes of offenders. Moreover, it is suggested that stakeholder perceptions build a change in behavior of ex-offenders inducing reduced recidivism rates in the community.

2.5 Risk Factors in the Prevention of recidivism

Among the risk factors influencing recidivism among ex-offenders in the community while on probation, Campbell et al. (2020) demonstrated that neighbourhood factors such as association with antisocial peers play significant roles in recidivist activities of ex-offenders. Jacobs and Skeem (2021) supported the finding of Campbell et al. (2020) asserting that youthful ex-offenders who resided in resilient or mixed neighbourhoods inhabited by transient residents with high graduation rates were often at the greatest recidivism risks. Equally, Billings and Schnepel (2020) developed robust evidence that ex-offenders had less limited chances of reoffending if some of his peers were incarcerated while they reintegrated back in society. In a nut shell, these findings demonstrated that neighbourhood factors influence recidivism rates of former offenders if they are directly exposed to these factors.

In the examination of the relationship between gender, age, and relationship polymorphism and sexual recidivism, Rakes et al. (2018) concluded that there was a relationship between age and sexual recidivism and relationship polymorphism. Stephens et al. (2020) shared the view presented by Rakes et al. (2018) arguing that the odds of recidivism often decrease with age of the ex-offenders. Further, Stephens et al. (2020) and Prescott et al. (2019) agreed that violent offenders who were older at the time of their release had lower rates of recidivism compared to the younger offenders. In essence, the review suggested that age is a significant risk factor that impacts recidivism among ex-offenders released from correctional and rehabilitation institutions.

In the analysis of personal and psychosocial characteristics of former inmates based on their recidivist potential during internment conditions, Cacho et al (2020) established that the history of criminal behaviours, poor personality traits, lack problem-solving behaviours, and lack of submission were some of the personal and psychosocial characteristics possessed by people with high recidivism rates. Gonçalves et al. (2021) agreed with the findings of Cacho et al (2020) proposing that at individual levels, personal traits such as criminal history, age, single status, substance abuse, mental health challenges are highly associated with recidivism rates among ex-offenders. Moreover, the findings of Martine et al. (2019) demonstrated that personality traits such as impulsivity, aggression, psychopathy, antisocial disorders, and relapse are directly associated with higher recidivism rates among former inmates. The review suggested that personality traits and psychosocial characteristics directly influence recidivism among ex-offenders.

2.6 Social Reintegration and Public Safety

Social reintegration has been examined by Teye (2019) who postulated that the major goal of social reintegration program administered to inmates recaps the general public safety. Schartmueller (2020) supported the view of Teye (2019) evidencing that the successful integration of offenders in the community is one of the contributing factors of overall wellbeing of the society and community since most criminal activities are often conducted by individuals who have criminal records. Moreover, Schartmueller (2020) argued that social integration programs are often administered in society to undertake safe custody, rehabilitation of ex-inmates, and nature law-abiding citizens to ensure public safety. The reviewed literature demonstrated that successful social reintegration programs act as primary tools for ensuring public safety by reducing recidivism rates.

While examining the relationship between ex-offender’s unemployment and recidivism, Obatusin and Ritter-Williams (2019) proposed that many employers fail to employ ex-offenders because trust and public perception played significant roles in the hiring decisions. Schartmueller (2020) supported the intuitions of Obatusin and Ritter-Williams (2019) intimating that the employers were not averse with employing individuals with criminal records or those who would attract public attention on grounds that their safety was being compromised. However, Hall and Chong (2018) asserted that contrary to public perception and assertions that the failure of ex-inmates to acquire gainful employment was an indication of antipathy and pervasive perception of employers towards the offenders, some of them are always willing to help the ex-offenders to reintegrate successfully. These findings clearly demonstrated that ex-offenders face challenges in acquiring gainful employment due to public perceptions that their safety was being compromised through their interaction with former prisoners.

On the other hand, in an inquiry to examine the knot of interrelated meanings of reintegration and rehabilitation, McNeill (2018) argued that correctional agencies and stakeholders have a role to play in successful integration of ex-offenders through the broader engagement of the public and communities compared to preparation of individuals so that the public feels safe. Newstrom et al (2019) complemented the findings of McNeill (2018) documenting that collaboration is the key to success fostering ex-offender reintegration by modulating the working relationships between the community, therapists, and probation officers as a recipe for successful reintegration outcomes. In case where probation officers expressed poor communication with other stakeholders, recidivism and failed reintegration was often witnessed. Evidently, the review suggested that importance of collaboration between stakeholders as a means for achieving successful reintegration and reduced recidivism.

2.7 Gaps in Literature

The literature reviewed address distinct tenets identifiable as key risk factors of recidivism negatively affecting social reintegration of offenders. On the other hand, there is literature scarcity on the perceptions of stakeholders regarding reintegration programs, especially pointing to the relationship between social integration and public safety. Moreover, the review has not elaborated the reasons why first-time offenders are motivated towards recidivism, and the perceptions of the general public on their safety and security reintegrating such released people. Consequently, the present study evaluates the derailing factors associated with the perceptions of probation and prison officers on social integration programs, and the opinions of the general public consistent with their perceived security. The chapter below outlines the materials used in gathering data to answer the research questions, and the procedures entailed in analysis and interpretation of the gathered data.

Chapter 3 Methodology

3.1 Introduction

This chapter is an evaluation of the materials that were utilized in data gathering, and procedures for selection, data gathering and its interpretation. The chapter explores the epistemological and ontological perspective considered in the study, followed by research design, approach and methodology used. In addition, a justification for the research process elements used is provided. Further, the chapter outlined the search strategy employed in identification of secondary data, as well as the search criteria and CASP appraisal conducted. Finally, the chapter emphasized the ethical considerations made exemplifying the methodological limitations encountered.

3.2 Research Philosophy

The pragmatism epistemological and ontological paradigm was adopted in this review. According to James (2020), pragmatism epistemology is a philosophical construct in which the research design integrated operational interpretations on what best defines the research objective and what best answers the questions under investigation. Sergeeva, Bhardwaj and Dimov (2022) concurred with James (2020) that a pragmatist ontology entails research that implements innovative and dynamic methods of exploring the research problem. In the present analysis, pragmatism was considered appropriate because it allowed the flexibility of using both quantitative and qualitative data to address the research objectives.

3.3 Research Design

The present study was based on an exploratory research design. Dannels (2018) described exploratory design as the systematic evaluation of the findings in individual studies and summarizing the results critically to build inferences responding to the research questions. Sileyew (2019) shared the view of Dannels (2018) asserting that while the design results in summaries of results and existing knowledge, exploratory design focuses on the development of new understanding of the defined research problem based on a synoptical approach to interpretation. In the present study, the rationale for an exploratory design entailed analysing the disparities in past results by comparing and contrasting them and narrowing the lens through which the barriers to offender reintegration are established. The present evaluation used exploratory design because it rallied stringent adherence to search criteria of the included secondary sources.

3.4 Research Approach

Abductive research approach was adopted in the present study. As Bhagavatula et al. (2019) established, abductive approach results in an elucidation of research reconditions, exploiting to explain rules and conclusions. The approach, according to Earl Rinehart (2021), seeks to use inferences in order to explain from the consequences. In this regard, abductive reasoning equates the logical fallacy that affirms the consequent or implication consistent with similarities and patterns in multiple possible explanations. The present study exploited abductive approach in moderating analysis and interpretation because the approach was able to generate systematic results that were correct within the entailed formal system redefining the opinions and perspectives of probation and prison officers, and the general public from heuristic order.

3.5 Research Method

This study engaged mixed-methods research in gathering, analysing and interpreting secondary data. According to Almeida (2018), mixed-methods research encompass studies entailing collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data in one study. In addition, mixed methods research allows the exploration of the research problem through diverse perspectives while uncovering unique relationships between the complex tiers of data responding to the multifaceted research questions. Mixed methods research was developed because it allowed purposeful integration of data enabling the development of a panoramic view of the phenomenon under study with different viewpoints.

3.6 Search Strategy/Data Collection

Search for Secondary Qualitative Data – In the process of gathering data, a desktop search was conducted to select secondary sources. As Guerin, Janta and van Gorp (2018) established, desktop search entails a data-wide search pooling secondary materials to collect data from the findings in previously published information resources. This study involved procedures for gathering secondary qualitative and quantitative data simultaneously.

In order to isolate secondary qualitative data, a desktop search was conducted searching online journal databases for published works detailing findings from primary data methods. The search was conducted on ProQuest, SAGE, EBSCO, JSTOR, and Science Direct databases.

Search for Secondary Quantitative Data – On the other hand, a desktop search was conducted on online data repositories to gather secondary data to aid in descriptive statistics providing in-depth information on the study phenomenon. Consequently, quantitative data was gathered from the following online data repositories: healthypeople.gov, sgp.fas.org, unodc.org, researchgate.net, and statistica.com.

3.7 Search Criteria

The search from both secondary qualitative and quantitative data was subjected to inclusion-exclusion criteria as illustrated in Table 3.1 below.

Inclusion criterion

Exclusion criterion

Online data repositories and journal articles on barriers to successful social integration of offenders, social integration programs, and public security.

Abstract-only reports were excluded considering them to harbour insufficient evidence in answering the research question.

Journal articles and online data repositories published between 2012 and 2022, a range of 10 years encompassing updated findings on the study phenomenon.

Systematic review reports were excluded considering them to explore secondary results.

Journal articles with results sourced via primary research methods since the findings contained were considered of higher validity and reliability.


Table 3.1 Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Using a desktop search, quantitative data was retrieved from online data repositories while qualitative data was sourced from primary articles in relevant databases. A successful desktop search was conducted through a search query, which was designed using unique search terms that contained keywords, phrases and a combination of keywords using “OR” and “AND” as Boolean operators. The developed search terms included “social reintegration of offenders”, “barriers OR success factors AND offender reintegration”, “offender reintegration AND public security”, “social reintegration programs AND probation and prison officer opinions OR public opinions”, and “public security AND probation and prison officer opinions OR public opinions”. The search resulted in retrieval of 12 primary articles and 4 online data repositories, which were screened as per the PRISMA chart in Figure 3.1 below.

Figure 3.1 PRISMA of included articles

In addition, the included articles were subjected to CASP appraisal.

3.8 CASP Appraisal

The screening results in the PRISMA were tabulated and appraised through the Critical Appraisals Skills Program (CASP) to systematically assess the relevance, trustworthiness, and findings of the included research articles, as presented in Appendix I. According to Williams, Boylan and Nunan (2020), CASP appraisal uses a quality framework as well as an unprompted expert judgment to decrease information overload from the many sources that are available. Importantly, CASP appraisal provides a good indication of the study’s procedural aspects to detail the reported findings. In the present study, CASP appraisal was used to enable focusing on articles with research findings relevant to the research questions, especially those that reliably supported and/or refuted the claims with quality, relevant evidence.

3.9 Data Analysis

Quantitative Data – In order to breakdown secondary quantitative data, the gathered data was tabulated in MS Excel spreadsheet and subjected to descriptive statistical analysis. As Kaur et al. (2018) argued, the use of descriptive analysis entails summarizing quantitative data by enumerating measures of central tendency to describe possible patterns. Moreover, Mishra et al. (2019) established that descriptive analysis elucidates quantitative data with respect to patterns of meaning in means, standard deviation, mode and median, and standard errors to explain the inclination of the findings. In the present study, the developed conclusions and inferences were derived and presented in tables and figures.

Qualitative Data – Further, secondary quantitative data was tabulated in MS Excel to facilitate its breakdown via thematic analysis. As Sundler et al. (2019) established, thematic analysis is a qualitative approach to analysis entailing establishment of meanings and patterns in textual transcripts and interview responses. After scoring the data gathered, codes were developed to build datasets and categories. The datasets were examined further seeking to isolate possible meanings or patterns to develop answers to the research questions. Finally, the patterns of meaning identified were described into themes consistent with the research objectives.

3.10 Ethical Consideration

Considering the use of secondary sources, the gathered data was handled and managed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines (Broesch et al. 2020). In addition, all authors of the included secondary materials were acknowledged and referenced according to Harvard referencing style paraphrasing their content to maintain originality while eliminating plagiarism. Lastly, the research ensured that no incriminatory data was used in the study.

3.11 Methodological Limitations

The only limitation encountered was researcher prejudice in the selection of research articles because of their prior knowledge of the research subject and potential barriers to offender reintegration potentiating a selection bias. In order to address this limitation, the researcher employed an inclusion-exclusion criteria that was tailored to answer the research questions while the search query designed refocused the search without digressing outside the study objectives.

3.12 Summary

The above chapter has explored the materials and methodologies applied in the development of research findings. Specifically, using a pragmatist epistemological and ontological construct, a mixed-methods research was developed exploiting a systematic review design. Through on a desktop search, secondary qualitative and quantitative data were gathered from primary articles and online data repositories, respectively. Subjecting the gathered data to descriptive and thematic analyses, the results are presented in the chapter below.

Chapter 4 Data Results

4.1 Introduction

Chapter four examines the results retrieved following a detailed analysis of data collected from secondary materials. The chapter is based on the results from descriptive analysis of secondary quantitative data, and thematic analysis of secondary qualitative data examining the barriers to offender reintegration by exploring the opinion of the public and probation and prison officers. The findings from descriptive analysis are presented in tables and figures, while the results from thematic analysis are developed as a critical analysis of the themes and patterns of meaning.

4.2 Findings

4.2.1 Quantitative Analysis Findings

In the investigation of the opinion and perceptions of probation and prison officers regarding social reintegration programs for offenders, sgp.fas.org data developed by James (2015) showed that the majority of offenders did not have any job by the time of arrest as depicted in Figure 4.1 below.

[CHART]

Figure 4.1 Economic status of offenders by the time of arrest

As deduced from the figure, the findings suggested that probation and prison officers perceive social reintegration programs pertinent to successful integration of offenders to the community, especially by providing formal employment to mitigate recidivism. Additionally, the majority of probation and prison officers (92%) argued that while detainees did not have employment and did not work during their detention, the enforcement law define work as a right of released offenders (Dumitran, 2021). The findings suggest that provision of work and/or formal employment to released offenders improve the odds against recidivism.

In the evaluation of the opinion and perceptions of the general public linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety, the analysis assessed UNODC (2018) data on the rate of reoffending against successful social reintegration as depicted in Figure 4.2 below.

Figure 4.2 Reoffending versus reintegration

The findings from the figure suggest that public opinion on their security is based on the high rate of recidivism, as compared to successful reintegration. The position of the general public is that following repeat prison sentences, the largest proportion of offenders are not able to desist from criminal activity, increasing fear among people on their safety and security, and subsequently making reintegrate into the community difficult.

Additionally, assessing the factors reinforcing social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism, the analysis of HealthyPeople (2022) data is presented in Figure 4.3 below.

[CHART]

Figure 4.3 Factors associated with recidivism

The findings suggested that acceptance and employment ex-offenders positively and significantly influences successful reintegration. Secondly, the findings suggest that development and implementation of social reintegration programs directly impact on the success of reintegration of released offenders.

4.2.2 Qualitative Analysis Findings

As a result of the thematic analysis process administered on the journal articles retrieved from the online search, three primary themes were retrieved as discussed below.

Theme 1: The opinion and perceptions of probation and prison officers regarding social reintegration programs for offenders – In response to the first research question on the probation and prison officers’ opinions and perceptions towards social reintegration programs of offenders, Suttmoeller and Keena (2012) documented that overall complementary perception of parole and probation was significant and an important part of the integration process while these officers regarded parole as more of a measure of rehabilitation than a public safety measure. However, Lusby (2019) contradicted the finding of Suttmoeller and Keena (2012) asserting that the main role of parole and probation as perceived by parole staff was rehabilitation and public safety. Riechmann (2021) shared the view of Suttmoeller and Keena (2012) demonstrating that the most significant activity in reintegration programs was to teach inmates important life skills. These findings suggested the significance of social reintegration programs in economically modelling the released offenders, including providing them with mental health and substance abuse rehabilitation. Moreover, even though reintegration programs are significant in the community, Barka et al. (2018) established that parole officers perceived the lack of community programs that aid in the successful reintegration of released offenders as the biggest barrier resulting in recidivism rates. Lusby (2019) agreed with the conclusions of Barka et al. (2018) demonstrating that parole officers agree that cognitive-behavioural rehabilitation programs have to be implemented through increased government funding for successful reintegration and reduced recidivism rates by ex-offender in communities. The analysis suggested that probation and prison officers perceive social integration and probation were an important aspect of the rehabilitation and reintegration processes. Similarly, the findings suggested that probation and prison officers perceived the need for every program to be administered with life-skills teaching, mental health treatments, and substance abuse interventions to enhance reintegration.

Theme 2: The opinion and perceptions of the general public linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety – In address of the second research question on the public’s opinions and perceptions linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety, Andrews (2015) suggested that the public has been regarded by governments to overestimate rates of crime, including specific types of crime such as violent crimes. Moreover, communities are not involved in rehabilitation and punishment, but only in reintegration. Bartels et al (2018) supported the sentiments of Andrews (2015) stating that the potential of the public to be affected by crime results in a complex relationship between support for reintegration and fear of crime. These findings suggested that there is a divided opinion regarding the support for parole and social reintegration of ex-offenders with a majority of the public proposing that parole and an opportunity for social integration should be a one-time-offer. However, O'Hear and Wheelock (2016) asserting that the relationship between public attitude towards offenders and fear of crime is sophisticated because it is often influenced by fear of victimization, fear of crime, and crime salience under investigation. McArdle et al. (2018) agreed with the conclusion of O'Hear and Wheelock (2016) revealing that the public recommends that those ex-inmates who violated the terms of parole should not be granted chances for parole in the future. The analysis suggested that the public views the social reintegration of ex-offenders as a collaborative duty in combating recidivism. Moreover, the findings suggested that opportunities for social integration during parole should only be granted on a one-time basis since most recidivists are serial criminals.

Theme 3: Factors reinforcing social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism – While addressing the third research question on factors reinforce social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism, Osayi et al. (2013) documented that the negative perceptions of the public towards prisoners and poor-environmental conditions as the two major reasons leading to the rise in recidivism rates. Salihu (2018) concurred with the sentiments of Osayi et al. (2013) asserting that discharged prisoners are often faced with economic, social, and personal challenges that may make them recidivist. The findings suggested a range of challenges including rejection by friends, family, colleagues, and failed employability that results in social stigma and a failed reintegration process. On the other hand, Mutabari (2017) illustrated that the lack of pre-release training by correctional facilities was one of the reasons why ex-inmates recidivate. Idowu and Odivwri (2019) agreed with Mutabari (2017) postulating that many correctional facilities do not administer pre-release training, this training would play an important role in preparing the ex-offenders to manage stigma, which often results in recidivism. Accordingly, the findings suggested that the capacity of parole officers, negative perceptions of the public, employment opportunities, indulgence in substance abuse and alcoholism, and administration of prison educational programs influence the performance of reintegration programs and the rate of recidivism in society.

Chapter 5 Discussion

5.1 Introduction

This chapter provides an exploration of the current findings relative to the literature review. Specifically, the chapter compares and contrasts the current findings to the conclusions and inferences of the reviewed literatures. The discussion is built upon the three isolated themes, which that conclusively answered the research questions. The themes include the opinion and perceptions of probation and prison officers regarding social reintegration programs for offenders, the opinion and perceptions of the general public linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety, and factors reinforcing social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism.

5.2 Discussion and Analysis

In the analysis of the opinion and perceptions of probation and prison officers regarding social reintegration programs for offenders, the findings from quantitative analysis established that the probation and prison officers perceive the necessity of integrating formal employment with social reintegration programs. This finding concurred with the view of Alvarez et al. (2018) arguing that social reintegration programs that do not recognize the value of employment among released offenders increase their risk to recidivate. Similarly, the quantitative findings supported the conclusion of Liu and Visher (2021) intimating that the perception of probation and prison officers towards the released offenders shape the opinions of potential employers. This finding suggested that probation and prison officers emphasize the need to shape released offenders to elicit employability as moulded to enhance reintegration success. Further, the findings from qualitative analysis have established that the perception of parole and probation officers redefine rehabilitation of released offenders and anchor public safety. This qualitative finding shared the view of O'Connell et al. (2019) suggesting that prison officers regard parole as a rehabilitation tool that functions as a safety guard of the general public. In addition, the qualitative finding agreed with the supposition of Ishola (2022) intimating that parole and probation models the reintegration process since released offenders are exposed to substance use and abuse rehabilitation, and psychology counselling. These findings suggested that while there may be inadequacies in community programs, social reintegration initiatives at community level directly impact reintegration positively, especially with the implementation of cognitive-behavioural rehabilitation and reintegration programs. Moreover, the findings suggested the potency of social skills, and life skills as perceived by probation and prison officers in augmenting reintegration of offenders.

In the evaluation of the opinion and perceptions of the general public linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety, the findings from qualitative analysis established that the relative effects of crime to the society results in an intricate relationship between the public and released offenders to support their reintegration due to the generated fear of crime. This finding qualitative finding was consistent with the opinion of Ravulo (2019) documenting that the public opinion points to the need for a one-time offer for social reintegration and relative to the inputs of the parole and probation on social reintegration of released offenders. Additionally, both the qualitive and quantitative findings shared the view that there is generated fear among the public considering the high propensity of released offenders to reoffend. These findings were consistent with the view of Nqoko (2018) affirming that with increased recidivism, the general public lose trust with released offenders developing a negative attitude that subsequently impact on reintegration. The finding suggest that the opinion and attitude of the public is shaped by the post-release behaviour of offenders in the course of their reintegration with consequences that either bar or drive social reintegration. Further, the findings from qualitative analysis established that the perception of the public is inclined to negatively regard ex-offenders who violate parole terms recommending that such offenders lose possible parole in future sentencings. The view of Billings and Schnepel (2020) agreed with the presented arguments noting that taking into consideration the opinions of the general public demonstrate a collaborative approach towards offender reintegration. The analysis suggests that the position of the general public with regard to success or failure of reintegration and dependent on the attitude developed towards their security upon interacting and reintegrating with released offenders.

In the assessment of the factors reinforcing social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism, the findings from quantitative analysis established that the perceived negative attitude of the public primarily derail reintegration because it impedes their interaction and absorption. The above quantitative finding concurred with the conclusion of Ishola (2022) who asserted that negative attitudes in the general public build a poor community environment to support reintegration motivating more than a third of offenders to recidivate. Similarly, the presented qualitative findings agreed with Obatusin and Ritter-Williams (2019) noting that social challenges associated with negative attitude leading to rejection by family and friends, including forma colleagues and bosses aggravate recidivism preventing reintegration. The qualitative finding tallied with the viewpoint of Gonçalves et al. (2021) arguing that poor administration of educational rehabilitative programs in the prison, including apposite implementation reintegration programs negatively impact reintegration after release of offenders. The analysis presented suggest that successful social reintegration is a concerted initiative engaging the public in developing a welcoming attitude to released offenders, provision of educational rehabilitative programs by probation and prison officers, and improving the performance of initiated social reintegration programs.

Chapter 6 Conclusions

6.1 Introduction

This chapter examines the developed findings and their analysis in the discussion to build conclusions and recommendations. The present study was designed to evaluate the role of opinions and perceptions of the general public, and probation and prison officers as drivers to offender reintegration. In order to achieve this aim, a mixed-methods research was conducted where secondary qualitative and quantitative data from online data repositories and journal databases was reviewed systematically. Based on descriptive and thematic analyses, the study answered the three research questions.

6.2 Conclusion

Responding to the first research question on the opinions and perceptions of probation and prison officers towards social reintegration programs of offenders, the analysis concluded that social reintegration initiatives are perceived by probation and prison officers as a necessity towards reintegration of released offenders when they are blended with opportunities for employment. Secondly, the analysis established that probation and prison officers perceive the majority of offenders who recidivate as people with potential for employability but experience societal rejection due to their predilection to crime. The analysis concludes that with apposite community initiatives blended with social reintegration programs driven by probation and prison officers defines an approach that positively and significantly induce successful reintegration.

Responding to the second research question on the opinions and perceptions of the general public linking social reintegration of offenders and public safety, the analysis concluded that the general public build their opinion on social reintegration of offenders reflecting on their reoffending rate. Moreover, consistent with the problem of recidivism, the general public develops increased fear for their safety and security diminishing possible avenues towards reintegration. Additionally, the analysis established that the public are of the opinion that released offenders be granted a one-time-offer for parole and/or reintegration. Consistent with the presented perspective, the analysis concluded that such an offer is geared towards accepting offenders back to the community after successful rehabilitation in the prison, and baring repeat offenders from mingling with the community. The analysis, further, concluded that the public understands its role in social reintegration and the collaborative approach with probation and prison officers to rebuild released offenders.

Responding to the third research question on the factors that reinforce social reintegration of offenders while preventing recidivism, the analysis established that increased employment among released offenders play a significant role in reducing recidivism and enhancing successful reintegration. Moreover, the development of a positive attitude of the general public towards released offenders open ways towards potential reintegration approaches while creating a road map against recidivism. Importantly, the analysis concluded that initiation of reintegration programs that perform well by blending them with employability of offenders increase the success rate of social reintegration. The findings imply that provision of educational rehabilitation programs, including rehabilitation against indulgence in substance use and abuse, and psychology counselling promote reintegration impeding recidivism.

6.3 Limitations

The key limitation was associated with a lack of a unified database for institutions characterizing and reporting offender behaviors before imprisonment, during imprisonment, and after release, where these elements are centralized. In order to address this limitation, the study used data gathered from various organizations storing data lined with the defined study objectives, and ensure apposite predictions and assessments were made.

6.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings, it is recommended that a tool be designed to assess the possibility of reintegration of released offenders and assist probation and prison officers in making decisions on the educational, psychological, and social approaches, including defining release conditions to the general public. Moreover, it is recommended that social reintegration programs be extended to the community via a person-centered approach to change taking a sufficient duration to ensure released offenders are assimilated successfully. To future research, it is recommended that a study be conducted to evaluate and compare the perceptions and opinions of released offenders against the general public to gather the psychological factors impacting their reintegration.

Chapter 7 Critical Reflection Critical

In the course of completing the project, I have learned that social integration and probation are important aspect of the rehabilitation process since many ex-inmates confront a myriad of challenges that act as barriers for successful social adaptation and acceptability by the public. These issues include humiliation, stigmatization, lack of employment, failure to return to formal education, and lack of social capital. Unless they received social, emotional, and financial support to aid them confront these challenges, they risk of recidivism remain higher due to reoffending, social rejection, social integration, or even reconviction. I have equally learned that the rehabilitation process of ex-offenders and a successful social reintegration back into the community is a vital phase in the criminal justice system to ensure that crime-less communities and public safety is ensured by governments. This aspect explains the reason why legally binding international and non-governmental human rights entities keep emphasizing on effective interventions to offer support to social reintegration of ex-inmates as a tool for protecting communities, giving criminals a second chance, and preventing further criminal activities.

Secondly, I have learned that social reintegration programs need to be amalgamated with effective interventions such as counselling programs to help ex-offender to fight drug and substance addiction, alcohol addiction, empower them with life-skills, and mental health treatments while on probation. The findings of the study illustrated that inmates just released from incarceration experience many challenges such as drug and alcohol addiction, lack of employment, and social disintegration due to the negative perceptions of the public. The skills and counselling therapies administered to these inmates before their release and by community programs after their release should make them more resilient to challenges, they face to prevent recidivism. Most importantly, community programs such as those that are support by faith-based organizations are important for the successful reintegration of ex-offenders because they provide them with a spiritual sense of change with the belief that God or higher powers will give them a second chance to live a reputable life. Such organizations do not only focus on the change element of the persons, but holistically provide the ingredients needed for inmates to experience changes and live normal lives. In essence, ex-inmates need holistic support other than those focused on behaviour change only.

Lastly, I learned that the perceptions of the public play an integral part in the success of ex-inmates’ social integration. These perceptions of the public in this case act as one of the ingredients of environmental condition and availability of socio-support, which are some of the factors influencing recidivism. In my understanding, family, friends, and colleagues are some of the persons that constitute to the negative perceptions directed to ex-offenders. If an in-mate is not accepted back to the family once released from prison, the chances of recidivism are raised. The same aspect works with negative perceptions from friends and colleagues. In my view, friends, family, and colleagues are the individuals expected to provide emotional, financial, and social support to ex-inmates to help them reintegrate successfully. From the studies, it can be learned that lack of social-support from friends, family, colleague is one of the key reasons why the society experiences higher recidivism rates among ex-offenders. Equally, public perception plays a vital role in the employability of ex-prisoners. Employers that have negative attitudes towards ex-prisoners may never employ them since they will often view them as a threat to public safety. Therefore, societies should be informed on the relationship between recidivism and public perception so that those shifting to criminal activities resulting from public perception are aided.

To improve the study further, I would adopt primary data collection methods such as questionnaires and interviews to collect primary data from probation and prison officers and the general public. Through interviews and questionnaires, I will be able to gather first-hand information from their views and perceptions regarding social reintegration for offenders. Moreover, I would adopt the same methodology to collect primary information from the public on their views on the relationship between social reintegration of offenders and their safety. I would adopt these primary instruments of data collection because questionnaires and interviews are practical instruments of data collection unlike the use of primary online journals used in the present study. In particular, for the sake of the present study, questionnaires can be administered to the public through websites or emails with little to no costs incurred during the data collection methods. I will target communities with high rates of recidivism and crimes so that the public can respond to the questions directed to them relating to the objectives of the research. On the other hand, I will also use interviews to collect data from prison and probation officers since they can be easily contacted in communities. I will use face-to-face interviews to administer questions to these officers since it is expected that they have the most accurate answers to some of the research questions.

If interviews and questionnaires can be used for this study, the findings would have been more accurate compared to the present findings because the use of primary journals provided findings in different scopes of research. Moreover, the findings of the present study gathered data from different societies and communities with varying beliefs and perceptions regarding criminal rehabilitation, social reintegration, and factors leading to recidivism and their relationships with public safety. Some societies, more so in underdeveloped countries where crime rates are highly recorded, the public hold perceptions that punitive measures are recommended while some societies such as the developed believe that rehabilitative measures are effective. Incorporating communities in both kinds of societies would yield mixed results with inaccurate findings. Therefore, in my view, it would be commendable to focus on a particular society to yield accurate factors leading to recidivism and successful social reintegration. In particular, mixed results are yielded for integrating communities with different socio-economic and cultural factors because governments’ investments and regard on crime and rehabilitation are different. For instance, government investments on the criminal justice system are different compared to investments in African countries. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why crime rate and magnitudes and higher in poorer countries.

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Appendices

Appendix I CASP Table

Questions

Andrews, 2015

Barka, 2018

Bartels et al. 2018

Idowu and Odivwri, 2019

Lusby, 2019

Mutabari, 2017

O'Hear and Wheelock, 2016

Osayi, 2013

Riechmann, 2021

Salihu, 2018

Smith Durrette, 2019

Suttmoeller and Keena, 2012

Is the study question relevant to the field under study?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Does the study add anything new to the evidence in the field under study?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

?

Y

Was the study design appropriate for the research question?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Did the methodology address important potential sources of bias?

Y

Y

Y

?

Y

Y

Y

?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Was the study design performed according to the original protocol?

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Does the study test a stated hypothesis?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Were the statistical analyses performed correctly?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Do the data justify the conclusions?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Are there any conflict of interest?

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

N

Do the results fit with other available evidence?

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y = Yes

N = No









Appendix II SLR Table

Author

Topic

Methods

Sample (if applicable)

Main findings

Significance in the present study

Andrews, 2015

Community attitudes toward the reintegration of ex-prisoners 

Quantitative from surveys and qualitative data from question regarding respondents

Questionnaires were piloted using a sample of 2,432 respondents

The findings indicate an openness within the community to support the reintegration process.

The study was significant in revealing the perception and opinion of communities towards reintegration

Barka, 2018.

Attending to the Needs of Inuit Inmates in Canada: Exploring the Perceptions of Correctional Officers and Nunavut Officials

Qualitative research method that sought to interview inmates

The sample has 11 participants

Participants face a myriad of challenges that make them vulnerable to recidivism when they are released

Explored participants’ perceptions of the inmates regarding the extent the participants feel the programs meet the needs of inmates

Bartels et al., 2018

Public opinion on sentencing and parole in Australia.

Qualitative methodology using online journals

Involved a representative sample of 115 people

The discussion on parole is situated in the context of an analysis of the legislative and policy landscape.

The study presents an overview of the knowledge on public opinion on sentencing and, parole and social reintegration

Idowu and Odivwri. 2019

Re-integration of released offenders: a panacea to vicious circle of recidivism in Ondo state, NIGERIA

Both quantitative and qualitative research methods with the aid of questionnaire and in-depth interviews.

1072 participants were involve in the study

The study found that, criminal recidivism in Nigeria is influenced by the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the Nigerian correctional centers (prisons) due to its poor conditions

The study was significant for addressing the reasons for recidivism among inmates

Lusby, 2019

Probation Officers and Parole Agents' Perceptions of Institutional Obstacles to Reducing Recidivism in a Midwestern State 

Qualitative methodology using interviews

The participants were 5 probation officers and 6 parole agents from a municipal district in a county in a Midwestern state.

Institutional obstacles including: lack of community programs, lack of jobs, and heavy caseloads are responsible for failed social reintegration

The study was significant in demonstrating the institutional factors that result in recidivism.

Mutabari, 2017

Factors influencing performance of prisoners’ reintegration programmes: A case of women prisoners in Meru government of Kenya prison, Meru County, Kenya

The study adopted a quantitative methodology using descriptive statistics

The samples size for the study was 309 participants

Employment opportunities greatly influence the performance and reintegration programs

The study demonstrated the influence of employment on recidivism and social integration programs.

O'Hear & Wheelock (2016).

Public attitudes toward punishment, rehabilitation, and reform: Lessons from the Marquette Law School Poll

The study adopted a quantitative methodology using descriptive statistics

The study adopted a sample size of 804 participants

The public perceived rehabilitation and reintegration to be important functions of the system, but one that the system performs particularly poorly.

This study reports on findings regarding public attitudes toward the criminal justice system’s priorities and performance; differences in attitudes based on race, sex, and party affiliation; and predictors of support for rehabilitation.

Osayi, 2013

Socio-cultural factors affecting reintegration of discharged prisoners in Anambra State, South East, Nigeria

Qualitative methodology using systematic reviews

N/A

that ex-offenders respond usually respond to the obvious socio-cultural implications of their new status which invariably attracts limited social and economic prospects.

The study explores the importance of reconstructing environment that supports individual’s post incarceration needs, so that the society can prevent multiple offenses and reduce recidivism rates and crime

Riechmann, 2021

Measuring Perceptions of Various Forms of Rehabilitation and Re-entry Programs on Various Types of Offenders and Reducing the Likelihood of Recidivism: A Qualitative Study of Criminal Justice Professionals in Ohio

This project is a qualitative study collecting information and data through interviews.

N/A

The study found that rehabilitation and reintegration was more effective to first-time offenders compared to serial offenders.

This study was significant for reporting the perceptions and opinion of parole officers regarding their experience with first time and serial criminals

Salihu, 2018

Perceived Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Re-integration of Discharged Prisoners: A Case Study of Ilorin Emirate

A mixed method was used to collect and analyze the data

A total of 1187 and 3 was selected for questionnaire and interviews respectively

There is a significant relationship between the socio-cultural factors and reintegration challenges of discharged prisoners in Ilorin.

The study was significant in demonstrating the socio-cultural factors
and reintegration challenges of discharged
prisoners.

Smith Durrette (2019).

The Effects of Popular Culture on Public Attitudes toward Female Parolees.

Quantitative methods using regression statistics

A sample of 263 participants, recruited through social media, completed the surveys.

The rate of watching the drama shows did not influence how the television viewers perceived female parolees.

The study was significant in determining how different public perspectives influence reintegration underperformance and recidivism in the long-run

Suttmoeller and Keena (2012).

Treatment provider’s perceived effectiveness of probation and parole: A case study

Quantitative methodology using descriptive statistics

N/A

An overall favorable perception of probation and parole was apparent from the survey results

The study was significant for examining that existence of a relationship between different dimensions such as education
level, facility staff size, and perceived support for treatment and rehabilitation

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