Case Management in Correctional Work

The terminology of case management has become increasingly familiar to correctional services in the past 20 years.  Practitioners talk about it being the "glue which holds things together" or the "oil which makes things run smoothly".  Academics refer to its "boundary spanning" function, its role in providing integration and continuity.  Yet there is no consensus about exactly what case management consists of and how it is best organised and delivered.  What goes on in the interview room between case managers and offenders remains largely a mystery.

DOMICE (Developing Offender Management in Corrections in Europe) was a two year project, funded by the European Commission. The focus of the project was to understand, compare and contrast the ways in which different European jurisdictions arrange and deliver the case management of accused persons and convicted offenders within correctional systems. The aims of the project included: 

  • raising the profile of case management as a vital component in the "correctional mix"
  • enabling jurisdictions to learn from one another, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their own arrangements
  • generating international understanding about the way offenders are managed in different countries, in anticipation of Framework Decision 947 on the transfer of non-custodial sentences from one jurisdiction to another in Europe.

The project was remarkably successful in engaging over 40 jurisdictions from 34 countries across Europe in its work.  

About Case Management

The language of case management" is becoming more widespread. "Case Manager" is a term used by many agencies; there is reference to case management models, approaches, processes, systems and teams in academic and organisational literature. It is even possible to find reference to the case management approach, implying that it is a single approach whose characteristics are well understood.

So what - exactly - is "case management"?