Client Disparity in Community Corrections: Gender, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation

As the community corrections system has moved away from a focus on rehabilitation, it has been suggested that criminal offenders are no longer understood psychologically, but rather as rational actors for whom criminality is a choice. Rehabilitative efforts thus aim to guide these choices. Officers’ conceptualizations of the criminal self and the rehabilitative strategies they use are impaired by cultural diversity. Officers view the male criminal self as flawed or underdeveloped and the female as permeable and amorphous, that is, lacking firm boundaries. In response to these constructions, officers aim to rehabilitate men largely by encouraging economic roles and responsibilities, while for women, rehabilitation aims to "solidify acceptable ladylike behaviors"; discouraging relationship formation and containing appropriate emotions. Officers can view offenders of racial or ethnic minority groups as lazy “career criminals and bad guys”.

Religious minorities are often feared and thought to hold allegiances to extremist groups. Sexual minorities are often placed on the fast track to termination or under supervised…they can be just plain uncomfortable to be around.

These differences identified point to ways in which offenders’ gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or identifying as a sexual minority contributes to disparities in contemporary supervision.

The workshop will cover:
• Subconscious and conscious differences in gender-specific supervision plans.
• Systemic bias of risk predictor tools.
• Hidden bias and prejudices in revocation sentencing recommendations.
• Body language and presentation of an officer when working with an offender.

Workshop attendees will:
• Become self-aware of their own prejudices and preconceived ideas of offenders, their families and the world they live in and may be returning to.
• Be willing to “hear” the story of each offender as told by the offender. What is it they said you did?
• Be able to hold a mirror up for the offender to see what the world sees.
• Assist the offender is obtaining goals that are you both agree upon and value.
• Identify institutional systemic bias in revocation practices and make an adjustment.