Criminogenic Risk Factors
In our last three newsletters, we covered articles 1 – 3 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 the link to Part One
In review, here is the list of six dynamic Criminogenic Risk Factors:
- Anti-social network
- Anti-social beliefs
- Family dysfunction
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Poor impulse control
- Lack of career and/or education
This month, we’re going to talk about drug and alcohol addiction,poor impulse control and lack of career and/or education.
Addiction leads to crime. This is intuitive and does not need much elaboration. Ascend goes into depth on this topic, teaching students the many ways in which addiction can sneak up on them and how the other criminogenic risk factors affect addiction. Ascend’s curriculum includes classes on relapse prevention.
Poor impulse control impairs our ability to act and causes us to react instead. Much of crime is based on a person’s reaction to anti-social situations. Ascend teaches mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy that aids students in increasing their impulse control.
Lack of Career and/or Education
Some of the links between lack of career and education are obvious. If we have money for our basic necessities, we are less likely to steal. Other links between lack of career and/or education, however, are not as obvious but every bit as predictive.
Before we go into the analysis, let me take a moment to explain why we emphasize ‘career’ and not ‘job’ in our Ascend lessons. A person who is doing work about which they are passionate is in a happier, healthier, more empowering space than a person who is toughing it out at a 9 to 5 job every day doing work they either despise or find mundane.
A person who is in a career is generally making a salary above the poverty level. Everyone deserves a career. They deserve to be happy, healthy members of the workforce and they deserve to use their unique talents to make our community a better place.
A ‘job’ should only be a temporary stop on the way to a ‘career’. One finds a career by first looking deeply into topics about which they are passionate and talented and determining how those passions and talents can fit into the workforce. More often than not, college is a prerequisite to making the leap from job to career, which is why Ascend places emphasis on enrollment in college.
Returning back to our topic: how can lack of career/education predict a person’s return to crime? We have the one obvious example (having money to purchase something makes it less likely that we would steal).
What are the less obvious links?
- Lack of career and/or education make it more likely that a person has to rely on others to provide resources for them. What happens if that person is anti-social? Think about the example of the person who was released from jail and had nowhere to go except his anti-social mother’s house. Having a good career (made possible by education) means having personal power. When we can take care of ourselves, we are not forced to rely on an anti-social network for our survival.
- College and career workplaces are great places to form a pro-social network. Moreover, if a person has a degree or other career qualifications, they have more choice in the workplace so they can find a workplace that is free of anti-social network.
- Lack of career and/or education means that a person typically does not have enough resources to deal with problems as they arise. A person recovering from addiction will be more successful in affording treatment if they have a well-paying job or a well-paying job with health benefits. A person needing marital or family counseling will be more apt to afford that counseling if they have a well-paying job with benefits. A person who has a career and/or education has access to more of life’s necessities such as reliable transportation and healthy food. Lack of career and/or education typically makes survival harder. When we are stuck at the ‘barely surviving’ level, problems are endless and we are left without the ability to heal criminogenic risk factors as they arise. Next month: Lowering Criminogenic Risk factors .