Impact of Offender and Programmatic Characteristics on the Effectiveness of a Cognitive Skills Rehabilitation Program

Lisa Spruance, University of Cincinnati
Patricia Van Voorhis, University of Cincinnati
P. Neal Ritchey, University of Cincinnati
Shelley Johnson Listwan, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jennifer Pealer, University of Cincinnati
Renita Seabrooks, Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles

The movement to cognitive skills and cognitive restructuring models represents a systematic, wide scale implementation of a theoretically based intervention that is supported rather impressively by several recent meta-analyses of correctional effectiveness. These studies concur that programs most effective in reducing offender recidivism are cognitive behavioral or behavioral approaches. This paper adds to the extant research on treatment effectiveness by focusing on programmatic and offender characteristics that may impact treatment success. In an experimental evaluation of Ross and Fabiano's Reasoning and Rehabilitation program in Georgia, 1190 offenders from 25 parole districts and three correctional institutions were randomly assigned to either the cognitive treatment group (N = 609) or control group (N = 581). Re-arrest and return to prison data for follow-up periods of up to 33 months serve as outcome measures. Offender characteristics under examination include Jesness personality types and I-Level, sex, IQ, reading level, risk of reoffending, employment history, marital status, and socioeconomic status. Programmatic characteristics address how well program groups adhere to social learning methods (e.g., coaches providing reinforcements and opportunities to practice skills), appropriateness of class size, participant completion rates, and the climate of the class.

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Updated 05/20/2006