Community Corrections is Changing...Are You?
Change is hard. We expect our clients to change but when faced with change ourselves, we can often resist. We expect someone who has lived a certain way for 20, 30, 40+ years to make abrupt changes but when we give up sweets and our colleague brings donuts in, we gobble them down and vow that was the last time. We get a speeding ticket and vow to not speed anymore but once the initial sting has worn off, we look down and notice we are going 40 in a 30 and didn’t even realize it. It’s so much easier for people to change when it’s not us. It takes a lot of practice, new habits and even failure, to change. Sure, there is a valid difference, if an offender doesn’t change criminal behavior, there are serious consequences to their freedom, not just to their waistline or pocket book. But if those consequences were all it took; community corrections might not exist.
Community Corrections is changing. The change has been in the works ever since the early “what works” and “EBP” research pointed us to new approaches. What is different now is the change is hitting closer to home to the daily routines, decision making and programming. We know this through our conversations with practitioners all around the country and many in some of the most progressive states in community corrections, who are looking for support in meeting new and existing requirements from oversight agencies. While many in the field are excited about the changes, others are left feeling anxious, frustrated and resistant to change. Just like many of our clients feel upon entering a program. While it is easier not to change our own practices, we must continue to try new approaches and work to improve long term results. It doesn’t mean we don’t hold our clients accountable, it means we expand and adapt our approach and learn we have other tools in our toolbelt. People, even community correction professionals, must be held accountable to change in ways that move towards improved results.