Research has demonstrated that lasting change is more likely only if the subject of the change has an internal desire to do so. External factors, such as threats of incarceration, are much more likely to have short term effects. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a style of communication that has been proven effective at enhancing intrinsic motivation and moving offenders through the various stages of change. The Board has contracted with Michael Clark, MSW (Center for Strength-Based Strategies)
(pdf) to train staff on utilizing this skill. Additionally, Mr. Clark’s company has trained a number of Board staff to train others on Motivational Interviewing.
This principle is comprised of five subcategories: Risk, Need, Responsivity, Dosage, and Treatment. Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) is the backbone of EBP. The Risk Principle states that resources should be targeted to higher risk offenders. Correctional agencies should focus their finite resources on the offender group that is most likely to present a risk to society. By utilizing the LSI-R to determine risk and subsequently basing supervision levels on the LSI-R score, the Board adheres to this principle.
The Need Principle states that interventions should target identified criminogenic needs. The relationship between correctly targeting criminogenic needs and reduced recidivism is among the strongest found in social science research. The Board accomplishes this by incorporating the results of the LSI-R into offender case plans. Policy requires that case plans be reviewed and progress in each criminogenic deficiency be addressed on an annual basis.
The Responsivity Principle states that treatment interventions be delivered in a manner to which the offender is most likely to be responsive. This includes using cognitive-behavioral programming in general, and specifically matching interventions to the offender’s personality traits, gender, learning style, motivation, culture, etc.
Dosage is closely related to the Risk Principle in that agencies should assure that supervision and treatment are commensurate to an offender’s level of risk/need, and treatment is closely related to the Responsivity Principle in that treatment interventions must be targeted, timely, and delivered with fidelity.
Train for Skills with Directed Practice
Many offenders lack the skills needed to live law abiding lifestyles. Cognitive behavioral programming
(pdf) has been proven to be an effective method of training people how to make changes that are lasting. Cognitive behavioral treatment is based on the premise that thoughts, attitudes and beliefs strongly influence how one acts. Accordingly, training offenders on alternatives to criminal/anti-social thinking, attitudes, and beliefs and practicing pro-social responses can reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior. The Board contracted with the National Curriculum and Training Institute to have staff trained on delivering cognitive behavioral groups. Cognitive life skills, violence prevention, anger management, and drug/alcohol groups are offered by Board staff in all 10 districts.
Research on social learning theory has shown that rewards are more effective than punishments in shaping behavior. In fact, issuing four rewards to every punishment is the optimum balance for shaping behavior. Rewards do not have to be tangible—a simple statement of appreciation for improvements made can be quite influential under the right circumstances. One basic—yet important—MI skill (see “Enhance Intrinsic Motivation”) is to use affirmations. Just by utilizing MI, the Board has taken a significant step in satisfying this principle. Field staff are encouraged to look for ways to reward offenders. For example, offenders who display significant, sustained reductions in risk of reoffending may be relieved of certain conditions of parole (IE: reduced reporting). Recently, the legislature authorized the Board to utilize administrative parole. Staff needs two contacts per year for offenders under this supervision. It is reserved for non-violent offenders who have a very low risk of reoffending.