Empirical Focus

Project on Agency, Character & Identity – Empirical Focus

It is uncontroversial that prisoners leave prison ill-equipped, and a majority fail to stay free of crime. The dilemma posed by these men and women leaving prison has prompted many program and treatment responses throughout the country. Most in-prison and post-release program providers are under pressure to show that their implementations are evidence-based. But as the understanding of motivation and character is limited, the most common measure of efficacy is recidivism.

The Agency, Character and Identity project will critically examine the existing types of programs to see what values they promote – and the process for development of constructive agency – with the objective of establishing a destination website for program and treatment providers. The website will serve as a resource by providing new research and an in-depth analysis of treatment modalities and program plans with respect to explicit steps toward 1) fostering of aspiration to positive values; 2) training in skills to work for these goals; and 3) the emergence of awareness of self-management or self-awareness. A clearer understanding of the steps in the process of character development on the part of those leaving prison will allow a more nuanced understanding and assessment of a program’s effectiveness.