Contingency Management Programs in Corrections: Another Panacea?

Published date01 February 2018
Date01 February 2018
AuthorShelley J. Listwan,Paul Gendreau
Subject MatterArticles
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2018, Vol. 34(1) 35 –46
© The Author(s) 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/1043986217750426
Contingency Management
Programs in Corrections:
Another Panacea?
Paul Gendreau1 and Shelley J. Listwan2
The mantra of best practices in corrections, while well intended, may lead to iatrogenic
consequences. Community corrections and prisons are under increasing pressures to
manage their caseloads; moreover, the current accountability and get-tough agenda
in corrections demands offenders take on more responsibility for their behaviors. As
a consequence, we predict more episodes of “panaceaphilia” or quick fix solutions
because corrections jurisdictions in the United States are under tremendous
pressure to handle their populations at this point in time. In this article, we focus on
contingency management programs as the potential next panacea, not because they
do not have a proven track record of success, but because they require highly skilled
staff and make great demands upon correctional agencies’ decision-making practices.
To help counteract panaceaphilia from happening with contingency management, we
describe the theory and practice of contingency management, the demands they place
on programmers, the type of research needed to evaluate their effectiveness, and
how to prevent these programs from turning into punitive punishment regimes.
token economy, contingency management, correctional rehabilitation
With more than 2.2 million Americans behind bars and 4.7 million more on commu-
nity supervision (Kaeble, Glaze, Tsoutis, & Minton, 2016), there is an increasingly
strong desire to manage the correctional population more effectively. The term best
1University of New Brunswick, Saint John, Canada
2University of North Carolina at Charlotte, NC, USA
Corresponding Author:
Shelley J. Listwan, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of North Carolina at
Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA.
750426CCJXXX10.1177/1043986217750426Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeGendreau and Listwan

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