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Community corrections text voices new approach to probation and parole

Community corrections text voices new approach to probation and parole

Medina and Eidson

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Nearly three million adults are currently on probation in the United States, making it the most used criminal punishment in the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Lycoming College’s Justin C. Medina, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, recently launched a new textbook entitled, “Perspectives on Community Corrections,” with coauthor Jillian Eidson, procedural justice and research director at the Charleston Police Department. Published by Oxford University Press, the text sheds light on the misunderstood topic of probation and parole in the United States, considers different probation and parole methods, and examines the topic from different perspectives – an approach not yet seen in published works.

Medina’s and Eidson’s interest in the area of community corrections was sparked years ago when they worked together as probation/parole officers in Philadelphia County’s high-risk supervision unit. “Our experiences were rewarding and frustrating. Some people genuinely wanted to change but needed resources, while others resisted. Many people distrusted the justice system altogether and viewed community corrections as just a means to watch, catch, and punish,” said Medina. “As supervising officers, we were expected to elicit profound changes in people’s behaviors and attitudes – all with a shoestring budget and few resources. It ultimately led us to think about what is known about probation and parole.”

Friends and colleagues for more than 15 years, Medina and Eidson saw first-hand that the public knows little about this area of the criminal justice process. “Initially, we wrote an essay about the need for and role of community corrections today, and after receiving positive feedback, decided to pitch the idea to Oxford University Press, which had not published any books on the topic of community corrections since the 1990s,” Medina added.

[Medina] explained that the book is needed because there are comparatively few that introduce the topic of community corrections at a basic level.

He explained that the book is needed because there are comparatively few that introduce the topic of community corrections at a basic level. Additionally, available texts largely focus on how to supervise people from the perspective of administering supervision. Medina and Eidson offer a fresh perspective and address these concerns by placing a focus on different types of perspectives on community corrections, such as how people under supervision experience and view probation and parole, and whether supervision is responsive to the needs of diverse sets of people, such as women and LGBTQIA+ populations.

“We found essentially nothing tailored to the risks and needs of LGBTQIA+ people on probation and parole, even though these groups make up sizable proportions of the community corrections,” said Eidson.

She added that through her many years as a supervision officer with Justin, work in administration, and participation in job interview panels for new probation and parole officers, and training, “We saw the need for an undergraduate level textbook that would adequately prepare students for the realities of the job and present scenarios that they would likely encounter as officers. That's why, through its engaging writing and unique supplemental features, the book allows learners to view the subject matter from a practitioner's perspective and further leverage that knowledge if they are interested in careers within the community-corrections field.”

As a higher education professor on the topic, Medina has spent a decade using a variety of textbooks and peer-reviewed articles to teach undergraduate students. Through extensive classroom experiences, he recognized an opportunity to incorporate sound research, accessibility, and brevity into one source that boasts several value-added features:

  • Modular chapters. The flexibility of the text allows instructors to adapt it to their specific teaching styles, schedules, and topic preferences.
  • Crisp language. The text meticulously engages the college-level learner with plain, clear language, bolded terms, and concrete definitions meant to enhance their understanding and spark deeper learning, while moving away from stigmatizing language to emphasize the dignity, respect, and hope for change for people involved in the justice system.
  • Distinct perspectives. Approaching content from different perspectives uniquely enhances pedagogy. No text on the subject to date offers perspectives of community supervision from the individuals who experience community-based supervision.
  • Pragmatic approaches. The writing presents effective community-based corrections, while also holding actions accountable when they are ineffective or harmful.

“Perspectives on Community Corrections” is available in print, and electronically with access to a full suite of digital learning tools including integrated multimedia resources such as video, flashcards, quizzes, instructor support tools, and more.

More information can be found on the Oxford University Press website.

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