Describe the principles of effective intervention among offenders. Does research reveal support that these principles reduce recidivism (CCJ5546 – Prevention and Treatment of Crime and Delinquency).

Criminal Justice

Describe the principles of effective intervention among offenders. Does research reveal support that these principles reduce recidivism (CCJ5546 – Prevention and Treatment of Crime and Delinquency).

There are three principles of effective intervention;

The risk principle

This principle is about ‘who’ should be the focus of intervention programs. According to the principle ‘high-risk’ offenders should be prioritized in such intervention programs since they are the ones who benefit from treatment. The assumption is usually that low-risk offenders are easier to reform but empirical evidence supports treatment for high-risk offenders (Beaver, 2020, p. 3). Low-risk offenders are even likely to become worse off if they are subjected to treatment.

The need principle

The focus here is on ‘what’ should be the target of an intervention treatment. The principle advices that dynamic criminogenic factors should be the focus for change. In an ideal situation therefore, the goal should be to pick out criminogenic factors and focus on as many of these as possible. As Beaver (2020, p. 5) explains, focusing on two factors rather than one is better, and also focusing on three rather than two then even better. Also, since individuals vary nature, the need principle requires that individualized treatment be offered based on the criminogenic factors that are unique to the person. There is no need, for instance, of treating substance abuse (a criminogenic factor) in an offender who does not have a substance abuse problem.

Need a paper like this one? Order here –

The treatment principle

In this principle the focus is on ‘how’ treatment is done. The suggestion is that cognitive behavioural programs are better at changing offenders in comparison to psychoanalytic programs. The cognitive behavioural program is divided into two; cognitive theories and social learning theories. The cognitive theories focus on what should be changed while the social learning theories focus on how to change the specific behaviour.

Do these principles reduce recidivism?

Research supports the principle in regard to their effect on recidivism. Compared to criminal sanctions and non-behavioural treatment programs, cognitive behavioural programs for instance are empirically proven to reduce recidivism (Beaver, 2020, p. 10). Further empirical support is presented by Andrews et. al., (1990) who identify that a rehabilitative approach will work when three principles are observed. First, that delivery of treatment service is to ‘high-risk’ offenders, Evidence supports that higher risk offenders will benefit more from treatment service than low risk offenders (Bonta et. al., 2000).

Second, that criminogenic needs are rightly targeted, and, third, style or mode of treatment is matched to the needs of the individual in question. Andrews et. al., (1990) found that prior empirical evidence showed that service, when well applied reduced recidivism in juvenile and adult offenders both before and after 1980. These three approaches are also highlighted in the research by (Cullen and Gendreau, 2000).

Need a paper like this one? Order here –

Andrews et. al., (1990, p.374) notes that “…at least  40%  of the better-controlled evaluations of correctional treatment services reported positive effects”. This is in support of treatment programs being more effective at reducing recidivism in comparison to other approaches. The alternatives, incapacitation, and deterrence, according to Andrews et. al., (1990) are not justified by any evidence other than the hope that criminals will learn that crime has negative consequences and then hopefully reform.

The evidence against treatment principles above is has also been contested. Cullen and Gendreau, (2000) for instance highlights the fact that proponents of the ‘nothing works’ approach simply meant that no one could say that “…the “best way” to rehabilitate offenders was to use one type of treatment rather than another” (p. 128). This thus supports the need principle where treatment is supposed to be individualized in nature.

Overall, therefore, empirical evidence supports that the intervention principles do reduce recidivism.


Andrews, D. A., Zinger, I., Hoge, R. D., Bonta, J., Gendreau, P., & Cullen, F. T. (1990). Does correctional treatment work? A clinically relevant and psychologically informed meta‐analysis. Criminology, 28(3), 369-404.

Beaver (2020). Week 12 notes for CCJ5546.

Cullen, F. T., & Gendreau, P. (2000). Assessing correctional rehabilitation: Policy, practice, and prospects. Criminal justice, 3(109-175).

Bonta, J., Wallace-Capretta, S., & Rooney, J. (2000). A quasi-experimental evaluation of an intensive rehabilitation supervision program. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 27(3), 312-329.

Need a paper like this one? Order here –

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents