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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 228806 Find in a Library
Title: Chaos Theory and Correctional Treatment: Common Sense, Correctional Quackery, and the Law of Fartcatchers
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  Volume:25  Issue:4  Dated:November 2009  Pages:384-396
Author(s): Paul Gendreau; Paula Smith; Yvette L. Theriault
Date Published: November 2009
Page Count: 13
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This essay argues that the apparent chaos in correctional treatment of offenders is not random but can be attributed, in part, to the law of “fartcatchers.”
Abstract: The term “fartcatcher” has a long history that came from a “decidedly earthy and free-spirited age” in America (Bryson, 1994). The word referred to footmen who followed closely behind their masters, fawning and eager to please. In corrections, the term was first introduced in a plenary address by one of the authors of this essay (Paul Gendreau) at the annual American Probation and Parole conference in 1997. Under this metaphor, “farts” are common sense ideas whose author believes are rational and incapable of being challenged based on personal beliefs, anecdotes, ethnocentric beliefs, the fashions of the day, morally superior visions, and personal experience. “Farts” are not tested in the crucible of the scientific method, because the author of the “fart” believes it is self-evidently rational and worthy of being implemented on a large scale. The “fartcatcher” consists of those practitioners whose status and career advancement depends upon giving credence and implementation to the “farts” of politicians, policymakers, and their organizational superiors. In a correctional world of “farters” and “fartcatchers,” corrections quackery (CQ) and chaos reigns supreme as scientific rationality is discarded in favor of subjective common sense (“farts"). The hope for effective corrections treatment programs lies with charismatic senior policymakers who respect scientific evidence and give it priority in making long-lasting changes based on scientifically tested practices. 9 notes and 76 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Corrections decisionmaking; Corrections effectiveness; Research uses in policymaking; Treatment effectiveness
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