An article written by professor Ioan Durnescu, University of Bucharest, Romania
Lately I have seen many programs or interventions using visits to the morgue or hospitals to deter people from overspending or drive while intoxicated. In order to understand what is effective in reducing reoffending among those sentenced for road offences, we have run a comprehensive literature review of evidence and good practices at the international level.
It was impressive to see the amount of the literature available on programs reducing the recidivism among those convicted for this type of offences (see Wundersitz and Hutchinson, 2006 – for DIP; Freeman, Schonfeld and Edmonston, 2006; Clark et al, 2015; Feiburger and Sheeran, 2019 and so on). However, with only a few exceptions (see Schulze, 2012), the impact of most programs was evaluated using one or two years follow up with no control groups. Therefore, although the evidence is out there, its replicability and robustness may be questioned.
What we can conclude so far is that multimodal and multidisciplinary approaches are more effective than the ones using only one type of intervention. In other words, programs based on education, rehabilitation, health and punishment seem to work better than the ones based on education only. Furthermore, programs that combine complex programs with urine testing, probation supervision and driving wheel control locker produce lower reoffending rates than those based only on urine testing or electronic monitoring. The latter proved to be quite effective during the action of those devices but this positive effect tends to disappear once the device is removed (Elder et al, 2011; Houwing, 2016).
Miller at al (2015) conducted an international systematic review on the interventions for men and women convicted for drive under influence (DUI). Their conclusions were that multicomponent programs which address a range of issues pertinent to this type of offending were found effective. However, they found that participants in scare straight or victim impact panels (as they are called in US) are as likely to re-offend as non-participants and sometimes more likely. These programs are based on confronting the authors of these crimes with the survivors of accidents caused by drunk drivers or expose them to shocking images with victims of accidents in the morgue. These conclusions are in line also with another research conducted by Crew and Johnson (2010) and also with the general deterrence literature that suggests that punishment or the threat of punishment can have an impact for a moment but with no other changing pressure this memory will disappear allowing the past behavior to perform. Think of the speeding fines we receive sometimes. How effective are they in changing our driving style? Maybe they have an impact but only in combination with other factors – such as for example ageing, birth of a child or a cognitive behavior program.
This literature review will inform the creation of a new program/intervention for those sentenced for road offences under the Bringing Safety on the Roads (BriSaR) project funded by ERASMUS + and coordinated by European Strategies Consulting/Romania in partnership with Direcao-Geral de Reinsercao e Servicos Prisionais/Portugal, Aproximar/Portugal, Qualify Just/Portugal, Ankara Probation Service/Turkey and University Loyola Andalucia/ Spain.