Concepts and Definitions

"Case management" is not a term which is recognised in all jurisdictions or which readily translates into all languages.  In some places, the core components of case management (ASSESS - PLAN - IMPLEMENT - REVIEW) are viewed and managed more often as separate tasks rather than as an integrated process

Even where the term is recognised, there are significant differences in how it is understood.  For some, correctional case management must, by definition, involve one-to-one, case manager-to-client, contact; for others "pure" case management is an organisational or brokering (linking) activity.

The lack of consistent understanding posed a challenge for the DOMICE project

RESULT:  the high level of participation in the project meant that there is now a better understanding of case management as the core process in correctional work, and a better understanding about how to design and deliver it well.

The Outcomes Sought

The project asked case managers and their managers what outcomes they thought their work was expected to achieve.

The overall outcomes sought from correctional work are usually defined in Government or agency documentation, at a strategic level:

  • there is a strong and universal tradition of aiming for rehabilitation
  • the spread of compulsory unpaid work and electronic monitoring are focussed upon reparation (at a community level) and delivering low cost, humane punishments, although it is hoped that both are also rehabilitative
  • there is a growing focus upon public protection, sometimes accelerated by a serious and notorious case
  • meeting the needs of victims through mediation or reparation is becoming increasingly important.  This is most prevalent in pre-sentence work, but some countries are commited to integrating a mediatory approach at all stages (e.g. FINLAND, AUSTRIA).  The title of the main correctional agency sometimes reflects this victim focus (e.g.CZECH REPUBLIC, CROATIA).

The emphasis given to different outcomes reflected the current environment, the stage of development and the demographic, social, political and cultural history of each jurisdiction.

It is usually left to case managers to determine the outcomes to be achieved in work with each individual. Even where the legal parameters or the resources available appear to narrow down the outcomes, case managers believe they are expected to achieve - and often expect themselves to achieve - the most ambitious range of results. 

This makes measuring the effectiveness of case management particularly challenging.