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TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Effective Practices in Correctional Supervision

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Effective Practices in Correctional Supervision

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TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Effective Practices in Correctional Supervision

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  1. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL:Effective Practices in Correctional Supervision Paula Smith, Ph.D. School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati Presented at the annual meeting of IACCAC November 2012

  2. Previous Research • Solomon, Kachnowski, & Bhati (2005) • Results indicated no statistical difference between the rearrest rates of offenders who were assigned to mandatory release, discretionary release and unconditional release conditions. • Bonta et al. (2008) • Meta-analysis did not support the effectiveness of community supervision in reducing offender recidivism. General recidivism: r = .022 (k = 26, n = 53,930) Violent recidivism: r = .004 (k = 8, n = 28,523)

  3. Some Problems with“Traditional” Community Supervision • Insufficient dosage • Length of community supervision • Caseload size • Unknown risk of offenders • Availability and quality of community referrals • Content of interaction with offenders • Focus on external controls • Other policy and procedural issues

  4. Previous Research • Bonta et al. (2008) • A research agenda was initiated to develop and assess the Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS). • Bourgon et al. (2010); Bonta et al. (2010) • Preliminary results indicated that use of core correctional practices by STICS trained officers was associated with reductions in recidivism.

  5. Overview of EPICS Model • Applies the RNR framework to community supervision • Trains officers on core correctional practices • Includes measures of fidelity and coaching sessions • Involves on-going research studies to examine the relationship between officer characteristics and offender outcomes

  6. Risk Principle • Identify higher risk offenders with an actuarial assessment. • Higher risk offenders should receive more intensive services, treatment and supervision. • Avoid targeting lower risk offenders as it may increase their risk and failure rates.

  7. Translating the Risk Principle • Probation and parole officers focus on higher risk offenders. • A deliberate effort is made to increase dosage through the use of more frequent case management meetings as well as increased supervision and community referrals.

  8. Need Principle • Identify and target criminogenic needs: • Antisocial attitudes, values and beliefs • Procriminal peer associations • Personality ________________________________________________________ • Education/employment • Family • Substance abuse • Leisure and recreation

  9. Translating the Need Principle • Probation and parole officers are trained to target criminogenic needs (e.g., antisocial cognitions and social skills).

  10. Specific Responsivity Principle • Remove or address potential barriers to treatment. • Match the style and mode of service delivery to key offender characteristics.

  11. General Responsivity Principle • Use cognitive-behavioral strategies as these techniques are the most effective in changing attitudes and behaviors.

  12. Translating the Responsivity Principle • Probation and parole officers use role clarification and other relationship skills to establish a strong collaborative working relationship with offenders (see Skeem et al., 2007; Trotter, 2006). • EPICS uses a structured, active approach to changing antisocial attitudes and behaviors. • Defining themes and characteristics of cognitive-behavioral model • Core correctional practices

  13. Structure of EPICS Session • Each EPICS session should be structured to include the following four components: 1. Check-In 2. Review 3. Intervention 4. Homework

  14. Pilot Project • The original pilot project was conducted in Grant County, IN. • Northeastern Indiana, population of 69,825 • Predominantly white (90.3%) • Per capita income $25,756 (with a below poverty rate of 13.7%) • Education: High school diploma (80.9%), BA degree or higher (12.4%) • Unemployment rate of 7.0% • Community corrections serves adults and juveniles, as well as offenders convicted of both felonies and misdemeanors.

  15. Sample of Probation Officers • A total of 6 probation officers were selected to be trained on the EPICS model (4 males, 2 females). • In order to support implementation and ensure fidelity, trained officers attended bi-monthly coaching sessions with UC research associates. • A total of 4 probation officers were assigned to the control group (1 male, 3 females).

  16. Sample of Offenders • Each probation officer was asked to recruit five offenders to participate in the pilot project. • Higher risk on the LSI-R • Minimum of six months on community supervision • Sample included both males and females, adults and juveniles.

  17. Research Design • Probation officers recorded three sessions with each offender after 1, 3, and 6 months of supervision. • All tapes were coded by the University of Cincinnati in order to compare trained versus untrained officers on their use of core correctional practices.

  18. Research Design • Offenders also completed two measures after the first session, and then again after six months of supervision. • Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M) • Dual Role Inventory (DRI) • Collection of outcome data is on-going, and includes the results of urinalysis as well as technical violations, re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-incarceration.

  19. Results • A total of 93 audiotapes were coded (52% first session; 31% second session; 17% third session). • The experimental group submitted a total of 57 tapes, whereas the control group submitted a total of 36 tapes.

  20. Results • Trained were more likely to spend time discussing criminogenic needs rather than probation conditions and/or non-criminogenic needs.


  22. Results • Trained officers were more likely to make effective use of social reinforcement as a result of training on the EPICS model.


  24. Results • Trained officers were far more likely to identify antisocial thinking, but struggled with strategies to challenge (or replace) these cognitions.



  27. Results • Trained officers reported that their comfort level with structured skill building (i.e., role playing) was relatively low. • As a result, this technique was specifically targeted in coaching sessions. There was evidence that use of social skill building increased slightly over time.


  29. Results • Trained officers made adequate use of structuring skills generally, and were more likely than untrained officers to assign homework.

  30. DID THE OFFICER ASSIGN HOMEWORK? % of audiotapes

  31. Recent EPICS Research Projects • Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) • Research with three adult parole regions • Designed to pilot the use of EPICS model with parole officers • Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) • Research with three adult agencies and one juvenile agency • Franklin County Adult Probation • Hamilton County Juvenile Probation • Hamilton County Adult Probation • Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

  32. Recent EPICS TA Projects • We have more than 40 sites that have trained officers on EPICS and participated in subsequent coaching sessions.

  33. EPICS Performance and DRI Score ϕ = .17, p < .10

  34. Common Barriers to Implementation • EPICS requires officers to spend more time with higher risk offenders (and this may create the need to realign workloads). • Officers need to learn and practice new skills – and this requires training and coaching! • In order for successful implementation to occur, supervisors must be part of the process.

  35. Common Barriers to Implementation “It’s too time consuming.” • Evidence in the pilot project that time decreased slightly as officers became more proficient in the model. “It’s too difficult to conduct EPICS session in the field; it is so much easier to do in the office.” • It can be difficult to conduct sessions with parents, siblings and other distractions in the home or school environment. “I already do it – just not the way UC prefers.”

  36. Common Barriers to Implementation “I’m not a therapist or counselor; I refer them to treatment services. It isn’t my job and I’m not qualified.” • EPICS is not intended to replace other treatment services and community referrals. • Some probation and parole officers do not view themselves as agents of change. “Why bother to do all of this? I know that all offenders lie.” “This might work with other offenders, but my specific caseload is unique.”

  37. Strengths • Most probation and parole officers (both trained and untrained) regularly monitor for compliance and exhibit some relationship skills. • In general, trained officers are able to make effective use of social reinforcement.

  38. Areas for Improvement • While probation and parole officers can identify antisocial thinking, they often do not challenge it. • Most officers continue to be uncomfortable with some aspects of structured skill building (i.e., role playing). • Many homework assignments are not meaningful. • Coders routinely note several “missed opportunities” to target criminogenic needs.

  39. Conclusion • EPICS appears to enhance adherence to RNR model. • Officers focus more on criminogenic needs. • Trained officers use more cognitive-behavioral strategies in comparison with untrained officers. • This model is not intended to replace more intense interventions to address specific criminogenic need areas.

  40. Contact Information For more information, please contact: Paula Smith, Ph.D. Director, Corrections Institute School of Criminal Justice University of Cincinnati