Corrections: More treatment likely to reduce recidivism


Offenders who participate and graduate from treatment programs offered through Dubois County Community Corrections lower their chances of getting in trouble and winding up in jail or community corrections again.

But the ones who need it most, those who are determined to be at a high or very high risk for recidivism, are the ones who are less likely to follow through in participating in the treatment classes.

“We get a lot more resistance” from them, Phillip Payne, a community corrections treatment program facilitator told the Dubois County Community Corrections Board Tuesday. He presented to the board a study about the Dubois County Community Corrections’ treatment programs. The study was based on the analysis of information in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Community corrections offers a number of rehabilitative treatment programs. Some of those programs are Moral Reconation Therapy, which helps participants in making moral decisions; anger management; cognitive-behavioral interventions for substance abusers; interactive journaling; parenting education; religious worship and study; Churches Embracing Offenders; Taking Charge of My Finances; and Alcoholics Anonymous.

The key to breaking down the resistance among high-risk clients is to build a relationship with the client, Payne said.

“With a lot of the high-risk people, they’ve burned all their bridges, they’ve cut people off and they tend to keep people at a distance and not trust,” Payne said. “A lot of that time that it takes to get them in is building a rapport with them to even get them to sit down and talk to me about what the treatment that they will be referred to is and how to get that started in that.”

He said that many times people in the high-risk categories make plans to participate in a program, but then don’t show up for the classes. Whether that noncompliance automatically lands that person in jail is not Payne’s decision, he said.

“But in my personal opinion,” he said, “if someone is that resistant, there’s probably somebody in the jail that wants to help (encourage that resistance).”

The goal of having offenders in treatment classes while they are completing their community corrections sentence is to reduce the rate of recidivism, which is reducing the number of repeat offenders.

The recidivism rate for those who are in the corrections program and participating in treatment classes varies based on how long they are in the facility receiving services. The rate for people who were in community corrections for 30 days was 50 percent. The rate was 24 percent for those in the program for 90 days, and 12 percent for 180 days. The rate increased a little for people in community corrections for 270 and 365 days, but the rate for both was still less than 20 percent, Payne said.

“The rate of recidivism in Dubois County does appear to be slowing,” Payne said. “However, this is only in cases wherein individuals under supervision are receiving evidence based, cognitive-behavioral treatment.”

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, 49 clients graduated from treatment classes offered at community corrections. Seventy-three percent of students who graduate tend to not recidivate, Payne said. A total of 301 clients were served in the classes, with the biggest number being high-risk clients, 115 people.

Along with the treatment and behavior classes community corrections offers, participants participate in other programs through other departments, like drug court or probation. The amount of time clients spend in those classes are not included in study.

Payne also noted that treatment tends to be most effective when a person serves at least 180 days. Increasing the number of hours in treatment services under community corrections’ supervision will likely continue reducing recidivism, he said.

Dubois County Council President Jerry Hunefeld, who sits on the community corrections board, asked Payne if he thought having more space and staff would help the treatment program.

“Two nights a week, we are tripping over each other. We have three part-time contractors coming in teaching classes,” Payne said.

The teachers can work with only so many people in a day, Payne said. And having too many people in one class affects the quality of the class.

“Once you get above eight people in a (cognitive-behavioral intervention) class (one of the classes offered), you’re losing someone. You’re not giving the same quality of treatment.

“Could we use more space? Yes, but then we would also need more help.”

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