Correction News

August 2000

Caswell Sees Positive GRIPs Results

YANCEYVILLE- The General Recidivism Intervention Program (GRIP) has been in use at Caswell Correctional Center since January 1998. GRIP Program Director William Rayl describes it as a program based on Cognitive Behavioral Intervention (CBI).

"Our program is an alteration of CBIís Thinking For A Change along with Commitment to Change, a program created by psychologist Stanton Samenow," said Rayl. "It is a 13-week intensive program for inmates." In a synopsis of the program, Rayl explained that the main goal of GRIP is to use these concepts to attempt to reduce recidivism rates by teaching offenders about thinking errors and how to correct them, and by teaching them new social skills.

Rayl breaks down the two components of CBI this way:

Cognitive Skills- When someone views the world using a mistaken belief or cognitive distortion, they may react to the world in a way that causes undue stress or problems. Examining and dispelling these cognitive distortions and developing better cognitive skills are a major part of CBI. In essence, we are taught to think about our thinking.

Social Skills- These skills include such things as listening, asking questions and giving feedback. In CBI programs, social skills are taught to participants to aid in appropriate interaction with the world. Social skills are usually taught in a progressive, step-by-step process that starts with the most basic skills (i.e., listening) and progresses to the most complex (i.e., responding to another personís feelings).

Rayl started the GRIP program at Caswell on his own after reading a lot about it. He is aided by education specialist Deborah Frisco and three inmate peer counselors. Since its inception, 169 inmates have graduated from the program.

A recent study shows there has been a significant reduction in inmate rule violations. Personality tests also done on GRIP participants also showed a significant reduction in psychopathic deviance and schizophrenia mania tendencies.

Rayl said the program has had mostly positive feedback from staff, noting changes in attitudes of inmates. "I would like to see it (GRIP) expanded to other medium and close security inmates," said Rayl. "I would also like to eventually start up an aftercare program." Rayl said itís important to reinforce what participants have already learned.

Ultimately, Rayl feels that the GRIP program helps offenders to think in a more "pro-social manner and in turn behave in a more pro-social way." This leads to improved interaction between staff and inmates because inmates are governing their own behavior better. In addition, the program gives offenders the tools to succeed in their communities, making their transition from incarceration easier, thus helping make communities safer.

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