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      Effective Practices in
    Correctional Supervision

                 Paula Smith, Ph.D.
  School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati

          Presented at the annual meeting of IACCAC
                         November 2012
                     Previous Research

• Solomon, Kachnowski, & Bhati (2005)
   – Results indicated no statistical difference between the rearrest rates
     of offenders who were assigned to mandatory release, discretionary
     release and unconditional release conditions.

• Bonta et al. (2008)
   – Meta-analysis did not support the effectiveness of community
     supervision in reducing offender recidivism.
     General recidivism: r = .022 (k = 26, n = 53,930)
     Violent recidivism: r = .004 (k = 8, n = 28,523)
             Some Problems with
    “Traditional” Community Supervision

•   Insufficient dosage
•   Length of community supervision
•   Caseload size
•   Unknown risk of offenders
•   Availability and quality of community referrals
•   Content of interaction with offenders
•   Focus on external controls
•   Other policy and procedural issues
                    Previous Research

• Bonta et al. (2008)
   – A research agenda was initiated to develop and assess the Strategic
     Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS).

• Bourgon et al. (2010); Bonta et al. (2010)
   – Preliminary results indicated that use of core correctional practices
     by STICS trained officers was associated with reductions in
            Overview of EPICS Model

• Applies the RNR framework to community supervision

• Trains officers on core correctional practices

• Includes measures of fidelity and coaching sessions

• Involves on-going research studies to examine the relationship
  between officer characteristics and offender outcomes
                     Risk Principle

• Identify higher risk offenders with an actuarial assessment.

• Higher risk offenders should receive more intensive
  services, treatment and supervision.

• Avoid targeting lower risk offenders as it may increase
  their risk and failure rates.
         Translating the Risk Principle

• Probation and parole officers focus on higher risk

• A deliberate effort is made to increase dosage through the
  use of more frequent case management meetings as well as
  increased supervision and community referrals.
                       Need Principle

• Identify and target criminogenic needs:

   – Antisocial attitudes, values and beliefs
   – Procriminal peer associations
   – Personality

   –   Education/employment
   –   Family
   –   Substance abuse
   –   Leisure and recreation
         Translating the Need Principle

• Probation and parole officers are trained to target
  criminogenic needs (e.g., antisocial cognitions and social
         Specific Responsivity Principle

• Remove or address potential barriers to treatment.

• Match the style and mode of service delivery to key
  offender characteristics.
         General Responsivity Principle

• Use cognitive-behavioral strategies as these techniques are
  the most effective in changing attitudes and behaviors.
    Translating the Responsivity Principle

• Probation and parole officers use role clarification and
  other relationship skills to establish a strong collaborative
  working relationship with offenders (see Skeem et al.,
  2007; Trotter, 2006).

• EPICS uses a structured, active approach to changing
  antisocial attitudes and behaviors.
   – Defining themes and characteristics of cognitive-behavioral model
   – Core correctional practices
            Structure of EPICS Session

• Each EPICS session should be structured to include the
  following four components:

   1. Check-In
   2. Review
   3. Intervention
   4. Homework
                         Pilot Project

• The original pilot project was conducted in Grant County, IN.
   –   Northeastern Indiana, population of 69,825
   –   Predominantly white (90.3%)
   –   Per capita income $25,756 (with a below poverty rate of 13.7%)
   –   Education: High school diploma (80.9%), BA degree or higher (12.4%)
   –   Unemployment rate of 7.0%

• Community corrections serves adults and juveniles, as well as
  offenders convicted of both felonies and misdemeanors.
          Sample of Probation Officers

• A total of 6 probation officers were selected to be trained
  on the EPICS model (4 males, 2 females).

• In order to support implementation and ensure fidelity,
  trained officers attended bi-monthly coaching sessions with
  UC research associates.

• A total of 4 probation officers were assigned to the control
  group (1 male, 3 females).
                Sample of Offenders

• Each probation officer was asked to recruit five offenders
  to participate in the pilot project.
   – Higher risk on the LSI-R
   – Minimum of six months on community supervision

• Sample included both males and females, adults and
                   Research Design

• Probation officers recorded three sessions with each
  offender after 1, 3, and 6 months of supervision.

• All tapes were coded by the University of Cincinnati in
  order to compare trained versus untrained officers on their
  use of core correctional practices.
                    Research Design

• Offenders also completed two measures after the first
  session, and then again after six months of supervision.
   – Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M)
   – Dual Role Inventory (DRI)

• Collection of outcome data is on-going, and includes the
  results of urinalysis as well as technical violations, re-arrest,
  re-conviction, and re-incarceration.

• A total of 93 audiotapes were coded (52% first session;
  31% second session; 17% third session).

• The experimental group submitted a total of 57 tapes,
  whereas the control group submitted a total of 36 tapes.

• Trained were more likely to spend time discussing
  criminogenic needs rather than probation conditions and/or
  non-criminogenic needs.

% of

• Trained officers were more likely to make effective use of
  social reinforcement as a result of training on the EPICS

% of

• Trained officers were far more likely to identify antisocial
  thinking, but struggled with strategies to challenge (or
  replace) these cognitions.

% of

% of

• Trained officers reported that their comfort level with
  structured skill building (i.e., role playing) was relatively

• As a result, this technique was specifically targeted in
  coaching sessions. There was evidence that use of social
  skill building increased slightly over time.

% of

• Trained officers made adequate use of structuring skills
  generally, and were more likely than untrained officers to
  assign homework.

% of
       Recent EPICS Research Projects

• Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC)
   – Research with three adult parole regions
   – Designed to pilot the use of EPICS model with parole officers

• Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS)
   – Research with three adult agencies and one juvenile agency
       •   Franklin County Adult Probation
       •   Hamilton County Juvenile Probation
       •   Hamilton County Adult Probation
       •   Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections
           Recent EPICS TA Projects

• We have more than 40 sites that have trained officers on
  EPICS and participated in subsequent coaching sessions.
          EPICS Performance and DRI Score

                                     DRI Score
                     Below Average               Above Average
EPICS Score              % (n)                      % (n)

   Below Average       58.5 (38)                   41.5 (27)
   Above Average       41.1 (23)                   58.9 (33)

ϕ = .17, p < .10
    Common Barriers to Implementation

• EPICS requires officers to spend more time with higher risk
  offenders (and this may create the need to realign workloads).

• Officers need to learn and practice new skills – and this
  requires training and coaching!

• In order for successful implementation to occur, supervisors
  must be part of the process.
     Common Barriers to Implementation

“It’s too time consuming.”
    – Evidence in the pilot project that time decreased slightly as officers
      became more proficient in the model.

“It’s too difficult to conduct EPICS session in the field; it is so
   much easier to do in the office.”
    – It can be difficult to conduct sessions with parents, siblings and
      other distractions in the home or school environment.

“I already do it – just not the way UC prefers.”
    Common Barriers to Implementation

“I’m not a therapist or counselor; I refer them to treatment
   services. It isn’t my job and I’m not qualified.”
   – EPICS is not intended to replace other treatment services and
     community referrals.
   – Some probation and parole officers do not view themselves as
     agents of change.

“Why bother to do all of this? I know that all offenders lie.”

“This might work with other offenders, but my specific
  caseload is unique.”

• Most probation and parole officers (both trained and
  untrained) regularly monitor for compliance and exhibit
  some relationship skills.

• In general, trained officers are able to make effective use of
  social reinforcement.
               Areas for Improvement

• While probation and parole officers can identify antisocial
  thinking, they often do not challenge it.

• Most officers continue to be uncomfortable with some
  aspects of structured skill building (i.e., role playing).

• Many homework assignments are not meaningful.

• Coders routinely note several “missed opportunities” to
  target criminogenic needs.

• EPICS appears to enhance adherence to RNR model.
   – Officers focus more on criminogenic needs.
   – Trained officers use more cognitive-behavioral strategies in
     comparison with untrained officers.

• This model is not intended to replace more intense
  interventions to address specific criminogenic need areas.
   Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

        Paula Smith, Ph.D.
   Director, Corrections Institute
    School of Criminal Justice
     University of Cincinnati


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