CCAR Project Background
This project originated at a September 2012 with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Urban Chiefs Network meeting where members questioned the quality of academic preparation for college students entering the community corrections profession. In response, NIC crafted a problem statement paper and ensuing discussions led NIC to begin exploring how community corrections leaders could influence academic programming so that more students will be exposed to and able to focus on community corrections topics and knowledge during their academic careers. In September, 2013 NIC convened a two-day meeting in Aurora, Colorado involving 22 academics and practitioners who had interests or experience in some facet of community corrections. NIC representatives arranged the meeting in response to comments they had received from correctional officials and managers who questioned the quality of academic preparation for college students entering the community corrections profession. Interestingly, concerns about academic preparation are not unique to this specific field. The legitimacy and value of a college education for preparing people to meet modern workforce demands have been questioned recently, especially as college costs have risen amid the struggling national economy .
The NIC meeting participants were divided into workgroups, tasked with discussing the current state of academic preparation for community corrections, and asked to generate ideas for improvement. One of these workgroups focused primarily on the types of knowledge and skills that college graduates should possess to be effective community corrections employees. A wide variety of topics were mentioned such as the need for stronger universal work skills (e.g., effective writing and interpersonal skills), improved knowledge of evidence-based practices (e.g., understanding risk and need assessments and techniques for reinforcing positive behavior) and increased exposure to topics related to clients, programming, and treatment (e.g., understanding substance abuse addiction and treatment and sensitivity to diversity issues). Recognizing the limitations of a small workgroup making recommendations for the larger academic and practitioner populations, suggestions were made to conduct a more penetrating analysis of how the topics are viewed and prioritized across multiple jurisdictions and academic settings (NIC 2013).
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