“Man, not another inservice! What a drag! And it’s on conflict resolution? I’ll show them how I resolve conflicts!” If this is how your inservice training is received, read on. “As you could tell, I was not excited about being ordered to come to this training. But...
The security and safety of any correctional facility is directly and inextricably linked to the health and maturity of its internal working culture. The culture of a facility describes how staff interact with each other, with inmates, with outside people, etc. The more mature the internal culture, the higher the morale, productivity, creativity, teamwork [trust and cooperation], communication and institutional control.
To understand the process by which the immersive-experiential methodology impacts attitude, it may be helpful to explain how the brain works [as we understand it today] and how attitudes are developed. An external [or internal] event or stimulus occurs and the brain first processes it subconsciously in the amygdala, our fight-flight-freeze center, which determines if there is danger.
The punitive culture in our correctional system has produced expanding budgets and high levels of recidivism –both indications of a failed system. There have been attempts at changing negative prison cultures, but few have succeeded. One training design has proven itself with staff development training as well as inmate rehabilitation; it is the Attitude Transformation Model Training. Research proven, this model has been shown to be effective in a number of prison systems. The rationale for its success and examples of its impact are reviewed in this article.
The Alternatives to Violence Project [AVP] has been very effective at changing attitudes and behaviors, reducing anger, increasing empathy and reducing recidivism. Focusing on this last outcome, reducing recidivism, it is generally accepted that there are nine criminogenic risk factors that are predictors of recidivism. These factors in order of importance are: attitude, peers, personality, employment, family, substance abuse, housing and finance, personal distress and socio-economic status. The first three, and most important [attitude, peers, personality], must be addressed or success is unlikely, no matter what other criminogenic factors are addressed. AVP utilizes the Immersive-Experiential© training design, which directly addresses improvements in attitude and personality and indirectly peers, family and employment. It does this efficiently and effectively.
The Pennsylvania Department of Correction’s (PA DOC) did a Parole Violator Study. The study showed the critical importance of pro-social/emotional intelligence skills for successful re-entry. The Immersive-Experiential © training design has proven very effective as an Emotional Intelligence inoculation.
Excerpts from “What Works in Corrections; Reducing the Criminal Activities of Offenders and Delinquents” A meta-analysis of thousands of studies by Doris Layton MacKenzie.