As the evolution of community corrections practice from more law enforcement driven approach to a more behavioral management approach (Taxman, Shepardson, & Byrne, 2004) gains more traction around the nation, community corrections leaders are looking for a different type of knowledge base and skill set in their employees. Leaders involved in APPA, indicate they often find themselves hiring individuals with social work, psychology, sociology and other similar behavioral science degrees over individuals with criminal justice degrees. Why? Among the reasons are because those with strict criminal justice degrees are typically not getting as much exposure to the behavioral sciences within their degree programs. Therefore, the concepts and understanding of human behavior and motivation to change are less honed in criminal justice degree graduates. They also are not familiar with the change aspect of the work of community corrections and are more sensitized to the law enforcement side of the corrections field. As a result, agencies have to spend more time and allocate more resources to provide more extensive training and professional development once some of the criminal justice degree graduates are hired, which can be costly to agencies. Colleges and universities should incorporate more behavioral science courses into their criminal justice degree programs.
In general, community corrections leaders are interested in entry level workers being educated about the expanded role of community corrections professionals as enforcers and as change agents. They want them to have an understanding of behavioral theories, theories of motivation, and the psychology of criminal conduct. They also want individuals to have exposure to the impact that trauma, substance abuse, brain impairment, and mental health issues have on the justice-involved population. While they don’t expect that undergraduates will have in-depth knowledge or exposure to effective interventions, they do feel they should be provided general knowledge about effective interventions with offenders, including knowledge about differential interventions for special offender populations (e.g., domestic violence, sex offenders, female offenders) as well as know how to locate resources and interpret research to determine what may be effective.