Knowledge and Management of Criminogenic Risk Factors
By: Toni White, J.D. (Co-Founder and Co-Director of Ascend)
In our last newsletter, we covered the first article in a series explaining the reasons people re-offend and how they can mitigate that risk. If you have a friend or family member who has been incarcerated, or you have been to jail or are on parole, you owe it to yourself to understand these risks. If you missed the first article – here’s a link: http://ascendprogram.com/youre-getting-out-of-prison-how-do-you-stay-out/
What are the 6 dynamic criminogenic risk factors for re-offending?
- Anti-social network
- Anti-social beliefs
- Family dysfunction
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Poor impulse control
- Lack of career and/or education
In this article, we’ll analyze the first factor – Anti-social network
With the exception of anti-social network, the factors are in no particular order. Anti-social network, however, is the NUMBER ONE reason that someone re-offends. That is something that deserves attention and emphasis: anti-social network is the NUMBER ONE reason that someone re-offends.
What is an “anti-social network”? An anti-social network is a group consisting of family or friends (a network) that commit crime or create an environment where dysfunctional, unlawful or unhealthy behaviors and situations are common.
Getting out of an anti-social network is A LOT easier said than done. Not only is there our common human need for familiarity and companionship but we also tend to be loyal to people with whom we have gone through difficult times. The task becomes more challenging when the anti-social person is a mother, sibling, romantic partner, lifelong friend, employer or co-worker. Imagine how much the level of difficulty increases when the person you depend on for survival is anti-social (i.e. the person letting you stay in their home or providing you with money while you are unemployed). Walking away from an anti-social network also leaves many people with NO ONE ELSE. Isolation is the only other option and isolation will only work for a limited period of time.
Ascend not only problem solves with students as they take on the challenge of cutting off their anti-social network but provides, through its classroom environment, a pro-social network. A pro-social network is a group of people who encourage you to be healthy, functional, law abiding and thriving and who model that behavior in their own lives.
Many people think that they can keep hanging out with their anti-social network because they are determined that they, themselves, are not going to do anything illegal. They rely on their willpower! While this is a logical, common sense approach, it will ultimately fail. The reason is because willpower will not overcome the issues created by an anti-social network. These issues are addressed in Ascend. One of the major considerations that most people do not know has to do with how the law works.
Ascend, developed by criminal defense attorneys, has entire classes dedicated to teaching law. The laws of conspiracy, accomplice liability and constructive possession guarantee that those who hang out long enough in an anti-social network will return to jail or prison regardless of whether they, themselves, believed that they were participating in a criminal behavior or intended to do something illegal.
To anyone reading this who has survived being charged and convicted in the criminal system, I have one message for you to hear loud and clear: Your anti-social network of today will be your co-defendants at some point in the future.
The anti-social network can be made up of people about whom we care deeply. It can include people who have stood by us for our whole lives. It can include people we would like to keep in our lives “if only they would change” and “do better”. Ascend approaches this issue not with judgement (“those people are bad”!” for example) but with a single question:
Regardless of how much we want this person in our life, does our association with them make it more or less likely that we end up having illegal activity, law enforcement and incarceration in our future?
The science of criminogenic risk factors provides the answer. Anti-social network is the NUMBER ONE factor that predicts re-arrest for a reason.
In our next newsletter, we’ll discuss risk factors 2 and 3: Anti-social beliefs and family dysfunction. Gaining an understanding into the risk factors – and how to avoid them – is the key to enjoying a law-abiding life.