Firm, Fair, and Caring Officer-Offender Relationships Protect Against Supervision Failure

A growing body of research suggests that high quality dual role relationships between community corrections officers and offenders reduce risk of recidivism. This study assesses whether this finding generalizes from offenders with mental illness to their relatively healthy counterparts. More importantly, this study tests the possibility that this finding is spurious, reflecting the influence of pre-existing offender characteristics more than a promising principle of practice. In this study of 109 parolees without mental illness, the authors found that (a) firm, fair, and caring relationships protect against rearrest, and (b) do so even after accounting for offenders’ pre-existing personality traits and risk for recidivism. These findings are consistent with the theoretical notion that good dual role relationships are an essential element of core correctional practice, even (or particularly) for difficult or high risk offenders.