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corrections research_user reports - Corrections Research...

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Unformatted text preview: Corrections Research: User Report The Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision: Risk-Need-Responsivity in the Real World aeiamea James Bonta, Guy Bourgon, Tanya Rugge, Terri—Lynne Scott, Annie K. Yessine, Leticia Gutierrez & Jobina Li Pubiic Safety Canada Abstract Community supervision is the most prevalent form of correctional control. In Canada, there are approximately 95,000 offenders under probation or parole supervision. In the United States the number exceeds five million. Despite the prevalence of its use, little is known about the effectiveness of community supervision. The risk-needwresponsivlty (RNR) model of offender rehabilitation has guided the development of treatment programs but it has not been applied in situations of one—on—one supervision. In the present study, an RNR—based training program was developed and delivered to probation officers to assist in the direct supervision of offenders under a probation order. Probation officers were randomly assigned to a training or no—training condition. After training, probation officers audiotaped some of their sessions with clients in order to assess their use of the shifts taught in training. The results showed that the trained probation officers evidenced more of the RNR-based skills and that their clients had a tower recidivism rate. The findings suggest that training in the evidenced—based principles of the RNR model can have an important impact on the behaviour of probation officers and their clients. Author’s Note The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Public Safety Canada. Correspondence concerning this report should be addressed to James Bonta, Corrections Research, Public Safety Canada, 340 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, KIA 0P8; email: [email protected] Acknowledgements First and foremost, our heartfelt thanks to the probation officers and their managers for their dedication and support to the project. Without their enthusiastic support, the success of the research wouid have been impossible. A number of people provided their assistance during the project. We would like to thank Kyle Simpson who was part of the team in coding the audiotapes. At various points in the coding, Leslie Helmus and Jennifer Ashton assisted. Finally, we would like to thank Julie Blais for the coding of the recidivism data. Product Information: April 20l0 Cat. No.: PS3—l/2010—l E-PDF iSBN No.2 978-1-100-15750-4 Ottawa The Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision: Risk-Need-Responsivity in the Real World Probation and parole are two of the most prevalent forms of criminal sanctions imposed by the courts. In Canada, there are over 95,000 offenders under community supervision (Public Safety Canada, 2009) while there are over five million in the United States (Glaze & Bonczar, 2007). Despite its prevalence, very little is actually known about the effectiveness of community supervision. In a review of 15 studies on the effectiveness of community supervision, Bonta and his colleagues (Bonta, Rugge, Scott, Bourgon & Yessine, 2008) found an average decrease in recidivism of approximately two percentage points for offenders under community supervision. With respect to violent recidivism, there was no decrease in recidivism associated with community supervision. These findings ied us to question why community supervision is not more effective given the large literature on the effectiveness of offender rehabilitation programming. The Risk—Need—Responsivity {RNRQ Model of Offender Rehabilitation interest in the effectiveness of treatment interventions has been longstanding and the so—called “nothing works” report by Martinson (Lipton, Martinson & Wilks, 1975; Martinson, 1974) represented a challenge to rehabilitationists to prove otherwise. Subsequent to the Martinson report, concerted efforts were made to better understand when rehabilitation does “work” and with whom. Narrative reviews of the literature found that treatment could be effective (e.g., Gendreau & Ross, 1979, l987) as did reviews using the more sophisticated meta-analytic techniques (Lipsey, 1989, 1995; Misc], 1995). However, most of the reviews focused on the need to conduct evaluations in a methodologically rigorous manner (e.g., Lipsey, 2009) with little attention to the actual content of the interventions. The approach taken by Andrews and his colleagues (Andrews, Zinger, Hoge, Bonta, Gendreau & Cullen, 1990) adopts a more conceptual approach to the literature based on the risk-need—responsivity (RNR) model of correctional assessment and treatment. First proposad in 1990 by Andrews, Bonta, and Hoge, the risk—need-responsivity model has become one of the most influential models guiding treatment interventions in corrections (Ogloff & Davis, 2004). Although the number of principles have greatly increased since the i990 paper (presently numbering 15 principles; Andrews & Bonta, 2010a, Andrews & Bonta, 20l0b), the three core principles that were initially outlined continue to dominate the scene. These three principles can be summarized as follows: 1. Risk principle: Match the level of services to the risk level of the offender. Provide intensive services to higher risk clients and minimal services to lower risk clients. 2. Need princrple: In treatment, set criminogenic needs as the target of intervention. Criminogenic needs are the dynamic risk factors associated with criminal behaviour (e.g., procriminal attitudes, substance abuse, criminal associates). Non-criminogenic needs (cg, vague complaints of emotional distress, self-esteem without consideration of procriminal attitudes) are relevant only in that they may act as obstacles to changes in criminogenic needs. 3. Responsivity principle: Match the style and mode of intervention to the ability and learning style of the offender. Social learning and cognitive-behavioural styles of influence (e.g., role playing, prosocial modeling, cognitive restructuring) generally work best with offenders. Applying these three principles, an early review of 80 studies yielded 154 effect size estimates (Andrews, Zinger et al., 1990). In a more recent review that yielded 374 effect size estimates (Andrews & Bonta, 2010a), a clear pattern was evident. Overall, treatment was associated with reduced recidivism i.e., mean effect size of 0.08 or an 8 percentage point reduction in recidivism). However, as adherence to the principles increased, so did the reductions in recidivism. interventions that adhered to none of the three principles (i.e., targeted low risk offenders and their noncriminogenic needs using non—behavioural therapeutic approaches) were actually associated with a small increase in recidivism (r = -0.02, k I 124). Treatment programs that adhered to at least one of the principles showed a small decrease in recidivism (r I 0.02, k L" 106). Treatments adhering to two principies showed larger effects (r = 0.18, k = 84) while these interventions that adhered to all three principles evidenced the largest reductions in recidivism (r = 0.26, k = 60). If the essential features of effective correctionai interventions are those that adhere to the RNR principles, then it seems appropriate to apply them on a more routine basis in the supervision of offenders in the community. In an attempt to understand why community supervision is less effective than commonly thought, Bonta et al. (2008) looked inside “the black box of supervision”. Sixty-two probation officers were asked to audiotape their supervision sessions with clients (Bcnta, Rugge, Sedo & Coles, 2004; Bonta et al., 2008). An analysis of 154 audiotapes (some officers submitted more than one) found reiatively poor adherence to the RNR principles. For example, other than substance abuse and family/marital probiems, most criminogenic needs were infrequently addressed. Procriminal attitudes were discussed in only 3% of cases. Furthermore, cognitive—behavioural techniques such as prosocial modeling and role playing along with practice were demonstrated in less than one-quarter of the sessions. These findings opened the door to training in better adherence to the RNR principles in one—on-one supervision. To our knowledge, there has only been one evaluation of a training program that attempted to foilow at least some of the RNR principles. Trotter (1996) provided a 5-day training course on prosocial modeling, empathy and problem-solving to a sample of 30 probation officers in Australia. After training, 12 probation officers continued to attend ongoing training sessions and used the new supervision model (as evidenced by case notes). Trotter (1996) then followed-up 93 clients of the officers who used the approach taught in training and compared their recidivism to 273 clients of officers who did not use the model. The 4~year reconviction rate was 53.8% for the ciients of the officers who applied what they learned in training; the rate for the control clients was 64%. The Present Study The work of Trotter (1996) is encouraging and points to a need for further research on the training of probation officers. There are two improvements that can be made to advance the research agenda. First, on a conceptual level, training should inciude a combination of techniques for influencing change (i.e., general responsivity) and for targeting criminogenic needs. Trotter’s (1996) focus was on training officers to be more empathic, act as prosocial models and to use probiem-solving techniques; there was no training in the identification of criminogenic needs. Second, on a methodological level, more rigorous experimental evaluations should be instituted with random assignment and direct behavioural measurement (e.g., Trotter (1996) used a comparison sample of convenience and case notes to measure behaviour). The present study tried to address the weaknesses in Trotter’s (l996) work and to also take advantage of more recent research on the characteristics of effective correctional therapists and developments in the RNR model. For example, a meta-analysis of the effective interpersonal skills of correctional agents found that estabiishing rapport, modeling prosocial behaviour, differentially reinforcing prosocial behaviour, and self—management skills are important (Dowden & Andrews, 2004). Furthermore, attitudes are considered to be a major risk/need factor that underlies all the other criminogenic needs (Andrews & Bonta, 2010a). That is, underlying any criminogenic need, for example substance abuse, is an attitude supportive of the criminogenic need (e.g., “I need the drug to cope with my problems”). Incorporating advances in correctional research, a training program was developed and delivered to probation officers called the Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STlCS). The STlCS training consisted of two main components: the 3—day training and the ongoing skili maintenance. The 3- day training was based on 10 modules, which were designed to accomplish the following: explain the overview and rationale for STlCS; emphasize the RNR principles and how to implement them into practice; highlight the importance of targeting attitudes, building rapport, using prosocial modeling, reinforcement and cognitive—behavioural techniques to influence change; and outline the benefits of using a strategic supervision structure in each individual session as well as over the entire supervision period. The ongoing skill maintenance component consisted of monthly meetings where officers could discuss and practice their skills, formal clinical feedback on officer-client sessions, and a refresher course which took place approximately one year after the initial training. This training protocol was guided by the RNR model in the following ways. First, the probation officers who volunteered for the project were asked to recruit medium and high risk clients (risk principle). Second, there were training modules attentive to the identification of criminogenic needs, with an emphasis on changing procriminal attitudes (need principle). Finally, probation officers Were trained in various intervention techniques ranging from rapport building to cognitive restructuring (responsivity principle). The major method for measuring the probation officers’ use of the skills taught was via audiotapes of supervision sessions. Audiotaping interpersonal interactions has been frequently applied in psychotherapeutic settings for the training and skill development of clinicians, but it is rarely used in correctional settings. Finally, the training program was evaluated in a randomly controlled trial. We expected that the training would change the behaviour of the probation officers with respect to greater adherence to the RNR principles and that this, in turn, would decrease the recidivism in their clients. Method Recruitment and Assignmentof Probation Officers Directors from three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward island) asked for volunteers from staff who supervised adult offenders (age greater than 17 in Canada). The recruitment request explained the nature of the project (i.e., attend training in a new model of community supervision), the general research requirements (e.g., audiotaping supervision sessions, attending monthly clinical support meetings and teleconferences) and that staff would be randomly assigned to an experimental or a control group. Probation officers who volunteered for the study were also expected to submit an audio tape of a supervision session with one of their medium or high risk clients prior to group assrgnment. Eighty probation officers volunteered for the study (55 out of a possible 268 from British Columbia, l5 of 129 from Saskatchewan and l0 of 15 from Prince Edward Island). The probation officers were assigned using a 60:40 ratio to either STlCS training or to a control/no—training group. We over-sampled the experimental cases in order to have sufficient power for planned analyses specific to the trained officers. Subsequently, 51 probation officers attended the 3-day STICS training while 29 officers were assigned to the control group and attended a half~day workshop on the goal of the research and project requirements. Even though the probation officers were all volunteers, 28 officers did not submit any post-training data. The attrition rate for the experimental and control groups was not significantly different (35.3% for the experimental group and 34.5% for the control group; 22(80, 1) = 0.005; p = .94). The reasons for attrition were benign in 35.7% of the cases (e.g., job change, maternity leave, or extended leave) and for the remaining 64.3% of cases, data was not provided for various reasons (e.g., not enough time, too much work, clients refused to volunteer). No statistically significant differences between the two groups on the reasons for attrition were found. F inaliy, to ensure that there were no pro—existing differences between those officers who submitted post—training data and those who did not, we examined some demographic characteristics between participating officers and dropouts. No significant differences in age, years of experience, gender, or race were noted between participating officers and dropouts. Recruitment of Clients Each probation officer was asked to recruit two medium and four high risk clients. As a new case was assigned, the probationer was approached by the probation officer to participate in the research. The requirements for participation were described and, if the client agreed, a consent form was signed. One hundred and eighty—three clients indicated a willingness to participate in the study but clients were only considered active in the project when the first audiotape recording was submitted (usually within three months of commencing community supervision). Given a delay between the consent to participate and the first audiotape recording of the session, we were left with 143 active cases. Data Collection Procedures Seventy-eight of the 80 officers who volunteered for the study submitted a pro-training audiotape (two officers were unable to record a session due to difficulties in receiving a digital audio recorder prior to training). After group assignment, the probation officers were asked to recruit six new cases and audio tape their supervision sessions at three points during supervision (at the beginning of supervision, then three months and six months into supervision). In addition, probation officers provided client information on demographic and criminal history variables and the results from their jurisdiction’s risk/need assessments. in total, the 52 participating probation officers recruited 143 clients. One hundred clients were supervised by 33 STICS officers and 43 clients were supervised by 19 control group officers. Although each STICS probation officer recruited, on average, more clients (M = 3.03, SD = 1.70) than each control group officer (M: 2.26, SD n 1.63), this difference was not significant (KSO) = 1.59;); z .1 19). The probation officers submitted 299 post-training audiotapes. However, four of the recorded sessions were dropped as the recordings abruptiy stopped sometime between the first to 20"‘ minute of the session due to technical problems with the recorder. Consequently, the audiotape analyses were based upon 295 audiotapes. There were 220 STlCS sessions (98 Tape 1 or the beginning of supervision, 71 Tape 2 at three months, and 5] Tape 3 at six months) and 75 control sessions (42 Tape 1, 22 Tape 2, and l 1 Tape 3). On average, the STiCS officers submitted significantly ((50) = 2.43; p = .02) more audiotapes (M = 6.76; SD : 4.35) than did the control officers (M "—“ 4.00; SD = 3.09). integrity of the Random Assignment The success of the random assignment was evaluated in two ways. First, personal demographics for both the probation officers and the probationers served to test the equality of groups. Second, we conducted a retrospective review of cases by selecting a random sample of four medium or high risk offenders under the supervision of the probation officers one year prior to entering the project. Not all of the probation officers were represented in this retrospective review as some probation officers were either not on staff or not in their present position at the time of the review. This resulted in a retrospective sample of 185 clients for which we could conduct a 2-year recidivism analysis and assess whether the two groups were equaliy effective in supervising probationers. Analysis of the Audiotapes The coding of the audiotapes focused on two general areas: 1) the content of discussions and 2) the quality and use of techniques of influence. Audiotapes were coded in 5—minute segments by a team of two trained coders. In order for a variable to be coded as present, there had to have been at least two examples to support the coding within the five minute segment (cg, a casual reference to a criminogenic need would not be scored). Upon compietion of the coding of the 5-minute segments, the coders would listen to the tape in its entirety and rate the session on measures of general quality (to be described later). The 5— minute segments and the tape in its entirety were coded independently by the two coders and then they reached a consensus coding that served as the basis for analysis. A random sample of 30 audiotapes was drawn for inter—rater reliability and coded by a separate team of two independent raters. Discussion Content There were two potential areas coded that we expected to be unrelated to criminal behaviour u discussions of the conditions of probation and noncriminogenic needs. in the STlCS training, staff was encouraged to minimize the time they spent discussing these two areas and to pay more attention to the probationer‘s criminogenic needs (i.e., antisociai personality, antisocial peers, family/marital, em...
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