Changing Offender Behavior
Nicole E. Sullivan, Project Director
"A man’s life is what his thoughts
|What is the Cognitive Behavior Approach?
The concept behind Cognitive Behavior Interventions entails having an awareness of ourselves and knowing why we react to certain things as we do. It is having an understanding of the thinking behind our behavior and the consequence of our actions. Studies show that behavior is influenced by the way one thinks (“cognition”) and that criminal behavior is often the result of an erroneous thought process. Cognitive behavioral training can enable changes in the criminal thought process, producing more socially acceptable behavior.
|What are Cognitive Behavioral Interventions?
Cognitive Behavioral Intervention programs present offenders the opportunity to alter the course of their thinking that in the past lead to criminal behavior. CBT is used as part of the rehabilitative process for offenders to help them understand their attitudes and expectations, and societal expectations. It also creates an awareness of the consequences of their abusive or criminal actions. The premise is that offenders will change, if through such programs they understand the precursors and consequences of their actions. Professional correctional staff or treatment and education providers can all be trained to work with offenders in cognitive behavioral training programs, and reinforce the concepts in day to day encounters.
|What is the Cognitive Behavioral Training
Several years ago senior staff of the NC DOC (NC Department of Correction) attended a conference that focused on what method works best for the rehabilitation of offenders. At this conference and subsequent meetings, various DOC staff were presented with research on the effectiveness of the cognitive behavioral approach in working with offenders. By this time the Criminal Justice Partnership Program was also aware of these efforts and organized a series of workshops on using cognitive behavioral interventions to treat offenders.
As interest grew within the NCDOC regarding the cognitive behavioral approach, the Office of Research and Planning formed a task force of various department representatives. The Cognitive Behavioral Training Task Force was formed and began meeting in April 1997. This collaborative effort includes representatives from the Division of Prisons (Program Services, Diagnostic Services, Mental Health) the Division of Community Corrections (IMPACT, Criminal Justice Partnership Program), the Division of Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Programs, the, the Office of Staff Development and Training, the Office of Research and Planning, TASC, the Administrative Office of the Courts and others.
The mission of the CBT Task Force is to provide information about the Cognitive Behavioral Interventions concept and help others to apply it in their offender rehabilitation efforts. Resulting from the efforts of this task force is:
|The Office of Research and Planning, NC Department of Correction, received a federal grant to initiate a Cognitive Behavioral Interventions Program for North Carolina. The grant will provide technical assistance and training to enable DOC staff to create pilot CBI programs in several areas of the state as part of their rehabilitative effort for offenders. The goal for CBI training is to equip offenders with the means to change their thoughts, attitudes and expectations that contribute to their criminal behavior, thus aiding them to become more productive citizens. Cognitive Behavioral Interventions has been adopted as a cornerstone philosophy in the rehabilitative programs within the NC Department of Correction.|