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Race, Gender and the Administration of Justice in theCommunity Corrections System: a Case Study

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Jessica Wyse

In response to the growing diversity among the criminally supervised population, some public agencies have begun targeting treatment and services by offenders’ race, gender and cultural group, in an attempt to better serve these populations and ultimately reduce recidivism. In this study, I examine targeted treatment within the context of the Community Corrections System in Oregon State. Community Corrections (probation and parole) is a significant, but little-studied justice intervention that supervises one of every forty-five American adults. I use a mixed-methods approach to: 1) evaluate whether differential treatment is occurring within community corrections system across race and gender categories, 2) explore the implementation of “targeted” treatment within this setting, and 3) determine how state agents’ personal beliefs about race and gender shape this treatment.
Using Oregon state administrative data, I evaluate differential treatment in risk score (a measure of recidivism risk) and community supervision level. I observe meetings between officers and offenders, and note the nature of the interaction. I compare the case notes recorded by officers across a small sample of offenders matched on risk score, crime type and history, but differentiated by race and gender. Finally, in semi-structured interviews, I identify race and gender specific policies and practices, and draw out officers’ personal beliefs about the role race and gender play in criminal offending and rehabilitation.

Funding Period: 04/01/2009 to 06/30/2010

Country of Focus: USA

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