Pathway to Change
Holistic Re-entry and Rehabilitation System (PTC-RRS)
This article discusses the necessity of the inclusion of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based program in the rehabilitation process. This article discusses how to create an integrated system that provides for the needs of those reentering society, so that they can become productive citizens and do not return to prison. In order to illustrate this process of integrating services under the auspices of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a Federally-recognized CBT-based recidivism reduction program, Pathway to Change, is being highlighted in this article to provide an example of how CBT should be integrated into a holistic re-entry and rehabilitation system.
The model system that we are discussing is a holistic group of services that anticipates and meets the needs of those are incarcerated and due to be released back into society. This is a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) based system that combines the strengths of three successful programs: COACH Foundation, Inc.’s COACH Ex-Offender Re-Entry and Survival Program, the Pathway to Change Recidivism Reduction Program, and 3D Economic Development Consortium’s TME Systems (Targeted Micro Economic Systems).
The COACH Foundation, Inc. (COACH) is a one-stop organization offering a program consisting of screening and assessment, support services, job development and placement, life skills, housing, employability skills, and follow-up to assist the offender, ex-offender, youth, and drug addicts with their transition back into society. Pathway to Change is a recidivism reduction program that addresses the root causes of repeat offending.
The goal of the program is to help offenders identify, challenge, and change beliefs and behaviors that result from a sense of victimization, powerlessness, a crisis in values, and spiritual emptiness. In addition, the program specifically addresses messages that are socially and culturally conditioned.
Pathway To Change is a holistic approach to personal transformation that is based upon cognitive behavioral theory and emphasizes cognitive restructuring or belief system change. Participants learn how to learn how to identify and modify erroneous and self-defeating beliefs and values that have led to poor choices and negative behaviors in the past. It is on the list of Federally-recognized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy programs and has 60% anti-recidivism rate among the individuals whom have participated in the program.
In Florida, it has been used successfully at the Orient Road Jail in Hillsborough County. 3D Economic Development Consortium is leading the way in creating innovative ecosystems that create jobs and build economic infrastructure in communities. Their focus is on creating Targeted Micro Economic Systems (TME).
A TME is an economic ecosystem that is designed to create livable wage jobs for individuals living in risk situations, such as ex-offenders and dislocated workers. Over the last thirty years, they have launched multiple micro-enterprise development systems to include long-haul truck transportation, call centers, staffing agencies, and restaurant-catering services; as well as industry-focused job skills development.
Gaps & Barriers to Re-entry
An effective Holistic Re-entry and Rehabilitation System begins with a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Program in the inmate’s pre-release program. This is to provide inmates with the skills to recognize and change the thoughts and behaviors that led them to incerceration. This process provides them with emotional self-management skills and as well as a life plan upon release.
Upon release, their other needs: Health & Wellness, Housing, Education, Life Skills & Employability Skills, Employment & Entrepreneurship, and Restoration of Civil Rights must also be concurrently addressed. Woven into their home setting is a continuation of the Cognitive-Behaviorial Therapy that provides them with a supportive peer group and the life skills to be successful in living in the outside world.
According to the Florida Reduction Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2009- 2014, the following are Gaps and Barriers to Re-entry: An ex-offender faces many challenges to successful reentry.
These challenges include employment barriers, financial obligations, the lack of appropriate housing, and strained family relationships.
To further compound these challenges, institutional programs aimed at assisting inmates in dealing with these issues have been sharply reduced in recent years. Absent educational programs and meaningful work opportunities, inmates returning to the community will receive few self-improvement benefits from their incarceration, other than time spent reflecting on past criminal behavior.
Typically an offender leaves prison with a $100 release gratuity, a bus ticket and no court-ordered community supervision. In FY 2007-08, only 27.7 percent of offenders released had some type of community supervision to follow. The lack of supervision after release can be another barrier to successful reentry because it places more of a burden on prison staff to fully prepare inmates for release. Without supervision to follow, inmates must then make the transition back to their community on their own, hopefully to a positive support system of family and friends.
In most cases a smooth transition is very challenging because most inmates return to low-income neighborhoods that consist of few unskilled labor jobs, and to peer groups that provide relatively few contacts to legitimate work. Success in reducing recidivism demands that inmates and offenders who lack adequate education, job skills, and work experience have opportunities to participate in self-improvement programming in prison and while on community supervision.
After receiving this type of rehabilitative programming, a continuum of services must be established, either with community supervision or coordination with outside recovery support service providers. Most inmates and offenders have limited education and cognitive skills.
Once released from prison or sentenced to community supervision, offenders are unable to identify support services available to them in their community. With the steady increase of offenders being released each year, communities are unprepared to absorb the economic and social burden of returning offenders.
As a result, offenders lack the supportive services needed to reintegrate into society and lead productive, law abiding lives. Several Florida communities have established task forces or committees to begin to work toward breaking down the barriers to successful reentry. These communities have seen firsthand how the reentry of offenders can reduce their community’s crime rate. The formation of local reentry task forces can be the first step in establishing a system of collaboration and recovery support services. These task forces are able to take stock of the resources that are available to ex-offenders in their communities, and assist in streamlining services to best serve them.¹
The same report discusses the benefits Cognitive-Behavioral Program:
Cognitive-Behavior programs operate on the premise that thinking controls behavior, so if thinking changes or is improved then behavior will change or improve. Cognitive-behavioral treatment programs, which aim to help participants develop better reasoning skills to change their negative behavior, have been increasing in popularity among correctional institutions.
³ A substantial body of scientific research has consistently found that participants in cognitive behavioral programs have recidivism rates that are 10 to 30 percent lower than rates for offenders who did not receive such services.
⁴ Among the general population of prisoners, cognitive behavioral treatment decreased recidivism by 27 percent. Larger gains have been noted with higher risk prisoners, whose recidivism was reduced by nearly 60 percent after receiving interventions administered by providers with at least a moderate amount of training.
Research has also demonstrated that adult cognitive-behavioral treatment programs can be particularly cost-effective relative to other therapy models. Studies have estimated economic returns of from $2.54 to $11.48 for every program dollar invested in cognitive behavioral treatment, while punishment-oriented interventions have yielded returns of only 50 to 75 cents for every program dollar spent.
Seven Key Areas Met By PTC-RRS
The following are the seven key areas that have been identified as needed by inmates that inmates concurrently as a system obtain their release from prison.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – meeting the emotional-social-behavioral needs at pre- and post-release
• Employment & Entrepreneurship – obtaining employment and/or entrepreneurial opportunities for those released
• Housing – meeting housing needs of those released
• Health & Wellness – meeting medical care needs to those released
• Education – meeting education needs of those released
• Life Skills & Employability Skills – meeting the life and employability skills of those releases
• Restoration of Civil Rights – assisting those released obtain the restoration of their civil rights so that they can life as full citizens after they have paid their debt to society PTC-RRC begins with the Cognitive-Behavioral Program, Pathway to Change, being integrated into the inmates’ pre-release program. This is to provide them with the skills to recognize and change the thoughts and behaviors that led them to come to jail/prison.
This process provides them with emotional self-management skills and as well as a life plan upon release. Upon release, their other needs: Health & Wellness, Housing, Education, Life Skills & Employability Skills, Employment & Entrepreneurship, and Restoration of Civil Rights are addressed. Woven into their home setting is a continuation of the Cognitive-Behaviorial Therapy that provides them with a supportive peer group and the life skills to be successful in living in the outside world.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Residential Advisors (RAs) living at the residential setting where ex-offenders are placed after release are Certified Pathway to Change facilitators. They facilitate group therapy sessions where ex-offenders are continued in the Pathway to Change process. This group, consisting of former inmates who are now productive-minded individuals equipped with emotional management skills, a sense of purpose, and a life plan, becomes the new peer group for each member. This CBT therapy forms the foundation of the employability skills training, job training, academic training, and entrepreneurship training that ex-offenders receive in order for them to achieve their life goals. The families of the ex-offenders are also availed the opportunity to participate in this same process with members of other families of ex-offenders; and this group serves as a new peer group and support network for these families as well.
2. Employment & Entrepreneurship: Employability skills and job training are provided by COACH Foundation; while entrepreneurship skills training and job creation are facilitated by 3D Economic Development Consortium. Whether an ex-offender is placed on an employment and/or entrepreneurial track is based what is revealed about the person’s life plan during the Pathway to Change process. COACH Foundation coordinates with organizations whom provide jobs to ex-offenders, provides them the requisite skills training necessary for employment and places them into the job. 3D Economic Development coordinates the creation of micro-economic ecosystems that create employment for ex-offenders through facilitating the investment of corporate funds into social enterprises that both create businesses that provide employment to communities as well as provide a good return on their investment.
3. Housing: COACH Foundation facilitates the provision of housing accommodation for ex-offenders upon their release from incarceration. These accommodations have life-in Residential Advisors whom continue the Pathway to Change CBT group environment for its residents. 3D Economic Development Consortium creates investment opportunities in social enterprise to provide housing for those being released from jail/prison. Targeted Micro Enterprise unites market needs with local micro enterprise investment creating a sustainable infrastructure. Every person released from jail/prison requires housing, in addition to a standing need for affordable housing in most communities, ex-offenders returning to society is its own catalyst for housing development. Once ex-offenders secure employment/entrepreneurial income, from these earnings, they contribute to their housing costs.
4. Health & Wellness: COACH Foundation facilitates the provision of health insurance and healthcare delivery and wellness activities to those released from incarceration. Depending on the circumstances, this coordinated along with the ex-offenders employment. Where ex-offenders are trained to create their own businesses, they are able to enter in group health insurance/wellness plans facilitated by either COACH Foundation or 3D Economic Development Consortium. In the same manner that 3D Economic Development Consortium creates housing based on the TME model, healthcare and wellness services are created. Using Target Micro Enterprise, Urgent Care Clinics and Wellness Centers can be created in communities based on the existing capital that circulates in their economic ecosystem. This targeted approach also provides low-risk investment opportunities for organizations interested in social enterprise and making a good return on their investment.
5. Education: COACH Foundation facilitates the provision of education serves for ex-offenders. These services include literacy skills, GED/High School Diploma, Community College/College, technical trade schools, and certification skills testing. 3D Economic Development Consortium creates education enterprises that are able to provide educational services to meet the education needs of communities within a target microenterprise ecosystem, and expand these offerings to the larger population.
6. Life Skills & Employability Skills: Both COACH Foundation and 3D Economic Development Consortium provide life skills and employability skills to ex-offenders. These skills training are based on the principals provided in Pathway to Change curriculum. These principals are reinforced in the ex-offenders residential environment.
7. Restoration of Civil Rights: COACH Foundation coordinates legal assistance for ex-offenders in order to assist them restore their civil rights. The restoration of civil allows ex-offenders greater employment opportunities, as well as the right to vote. 3D Economic Development Consortium creates social enterprise opportunities for legal organizations that desire to serve target micro economic ecosystems.
In addition, to providing the restoration of civil rights legal work, which creates a positive relationship within the community, these legal organizations are also be to avail themselves of the greater population as clients for other legal work.
Concurrent Services for Inmates’ Families
PTC-RRS also provides an organizational setting in which families of inmates can turn to assist them in their lives, and to assist them in facilitating the re-entry of their loved ones back into a healthy and supportive environment upon their release. It has been found that when ex-offenders return to the home environments, they can return to their old circle of friends and old habits leading them back into recidivism. Providing counseling to the ex-offenders’ families prior to their release helps create a home environment with less of the psychological triggers and peer relationships that can lead them back into a life of crime.
The PTC-RRS system utilizes the services of local and national community partners in meeting all seven of the key areas that those re-entering society need upon release from jail/prison. Social enterprise is a means though which large enterprises can reinvest in communities, provide for the public good, and receive a good return on their investment.
Pathway to Change Recidivism Reduction Program
This is a more in-depth overview of the Pathway to Change Recidivism Reduction Program
Pathway To Change has been found to be extremely effective in reducing recidivism among offenders who participated in the program in the jail setting. The program can also be effectively and successfully implemented with males and females in the following in the following settings:
2) Juvenile detention centers
3) Pre-release programs
4) Ex-offender re-entry programs
5) Substance abuse programs
6) After-care treatment programs
7) Family treatment programs
8) Ex-offenders assisting other ex-offenders programs
In addition to being used effectively as a recidivism reduction program, Pathway To Change has been successfully implemented in Workforce programs.
Introduction to Pathway to Change
Pathway To Change came into being in 1995, when Dr. Linda Smith, a professor at the University of South Florida, asked us to develop an empowerment curriculum as part of a Life Skills Program Grant she was submitting to the United States Department of Education. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was awarded the grant and Pathway To Change began as a cognitive behavioral program designed to help offenders learn to think in ways that induce behavioral change, leading to an increased sense of personal responsibility and accountability necessary to begin taking action to change their lives. The first edition of Pathway To Change consisted of 10 modules focusing on how to help offenders understand powerlessness, how to break the cycle of powerlessness, and the process of becoming empowered. The program was expanded to address the sense of victimization that most offenders feel and which often serves as a catalyst for offending.
Since the initial development of the program, we saw a trend in offenders who were suffering from a “crisis in values”. These individuals, often incarcerated for drug offenses, are alienated from their traditional and cultural values and are making choices based upon a value system motivated by materialism and consumerism. A module was included which addresses values and character development.
Pathway To Change was updated in 2007 expanding it to 15 modules and now includes a module which addresses the issue of spirituality. Research has shown that a recidivism reduction program (which Pathway To Change was designed to be) cannot be effective unless it addresses the “spiritual emptiness” experienced by many offenders. Finally, we have introduced the “Empowerment Circle”, based on the Mastermind principle as an approach to collective support, encouragement, growth and change. The purpose of the empowerment circle is to create a new peer group for the inmates that supports the growth of each other. This concept is one that inmates can take with them when they return to society.
CBT Recidivism Reduction and Officer Safety
The Pathway to Change process is one that teaches and cultivates emotional self-management. Emotional self-management is key to preventing conflict in general, and where conflict is unavoidable, preventing escalation, between inmates themselves and between inmates and officers. This process is not one that teaches moralism; rather, one that makes clear to the inmate the role that his or her own thoughts and behaviors have in creating the reality that they live in.
An “Empowerment Circle” is also something that corrections officers can create among themselves. This circle promotes professional and personal growth between officers and creates a greater sense of camaraderie, shared team vision, and an understanding of the social and emotional issues that inmates face.
The Pathway to Change Program and Recidivism Reduction According to the Annual Census of Jails, incarceration in itself has proven not to be a deterrent to crime. In fact, recidivism accounts for a significant proportion of the increasing prison population. Research has shown that an estimated 67.5 percent of released prisoners are rearrested for a new crime (either a felony or a serious misdemeanor) within 3 years following their release. A total of 46.9 percent were reconvicted in State or Federal court for a new crime (felony or misdemeanor). Over a quarter, 25.4 percent were back in prison as a result of another prison sentence and a total of 51.8 percent were back in prison because they had received another prison sentence or because they violated a technical condition of their release, e.g. failing to a drug test, missing an appointment with their parole officer, etc.
Reducing recidivism is a major challenge for the criminal justice system and to the communities to which ex-offenders return. The Pathway to Change program was developed for the purpose of reducing recidivism. Since its inception in 1995, the program has proven to have been effective in reducing recidivism among inmates participating in the program at the Hillsborough County Orient Road Jail. Follow-up studies of male and female participants participating in the Pathway to Change program as part of the Life Skills component indicate that 60 percent of those individuals who had participants in the program had not been arrested as compared with the previous 75 percent recidivism rate over a three year period.
The minimalist/interaction school of thought related to recidivism states that offenders enter prison with a set of antisocial attitudes and behaviors which are little changed during the course of incarceration. In other words, the same beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors that offenders being to the prison to the prison setting, they leave with, and because no significant change has occurred in either their consciousness, worldview, or character, they leave prison as the same person who arrived regardless of length of sentence, and will engage in the same behaviors once re-entering the community. Cognitive and spiritual restructuring of the offender’s belief and value systems must occur if the offender is to be transformed through the incarceration experience.
The Pathway To Change program has proven to be successful in reducing recidivism for several significant reasons. Over the ten year period that Pathway To Change has been implemented in the Hillsborough County Orient Road Jail, we have had the opportunity to
1) identify the core issues that influence offending behavior;
2) revise the program as additional issues were revealed;
3) create a climate that will bring about dynamic understanding, support change, and shape new behavior; and 4) evaluate and refine strategies proven to be most successful with the population.
As a core aspect of the Life Skills program at the Hillsborough County Orient Road Jail, Pathway To Change has provided the first and only opportunity to become aware of and to work to change the beliefs, values, attitudes, and choices that are the primary causes of their offending. Another major reason for the success of Pathway to Change is our willingness and intent to listen to and to hear our clients. Their input has helped us to further increase the effectiveness of the Pathway To Change program.
PTC: Program Description
Pathway To Change is a holistic approach to personal transformation that is based upon cognitive behavioral theory and emphasizes cognitive restructuring or belief system change. Participants learn how to learn how to identify and modify erroneous and self-defeating beliefs and values that have led to poor choices and negative behaviors in the past. Correctional interventions that include a cognitive skills component have been found to have strong research support for their effectiveness.
Pathway to Change is a recidivism reduction program that addresses the root causes of repeat offending. The goal of the program is to help offenders identify, challenge, and change beliefs and behaviors that result from a sense of victimization, powerlessness, a crisis in values, and spiritual emptiness. In addition, the program specifically addresses messages that are socially and culturally conditioned.
The Pathway to Change program has proven to be effective in reducing recidivism due it its focus on three crucial issues affecting offenders: a sense of victimization; a sense of powerlessness; and the experience of a “crisis in values”. Research has shown that offenders are in most cases, victims themselves, and suffer from an accompanying sense of victimization.
The program addresses the primary and secondary victimization to which many offenders have been subjected and which often serves as a catalyst for offending.
The vast majority of offenders can be characterized as undereducated and unskilled with little or no experience in meaningful employment. Low self-esteem, a sense of vulnerability, hopelessness, feelings of inferiority, behaviors of manipulation, deception, and physical aggression, are all common reactions to the sense of powerlessness experienced by many offenders. A major emphasis of the program is to help offenders understand powerlessness, how to break the cycle of powerlessness, and the process of becoming empowered.
Since the initial development of the program, we saw a trend in offenders who were suffering from a “crisis of values”. These individuals, often incarcerated for drug offenses, were alienated from their traditional and cultural values and are making choices based upon a value system motivated by materialism and consumerism. Significant time and work is now devoted to the issue of values and the “crisis of values” that many offenders face.
The most recent revision of Pathway To Change, addresses the issue of “spiritual emptiness”. Again, our work with offenders has indicated the need to address issues of purpose, service, moral development, and character.
Transitioning offenders back into their communities and the society at large is very difficult, and virtually impossible, unless the issues of victimization, powerlessness, the crisis in values, and spiritual emptiness are acknowledged and addressed while the offender is incarcerate, as part of the pre-release or parole process.
1. Florida Recidivism Reduction Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2009 – 2014, p. 11- 12
2. Florida Recidivism Reduction Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2009 – 2014, p. 16
3. Marta Nelson and Jennifer Trone, (2000). Why Planning for Release Matters. New York: Vera Institute of Justice.
4. Francis T. Cullen and Paul Gendreau. (2001). "From Nothing Works to What Works: Changing Professional Ideology in the 21st Century," Prison Journal 81 no. 3: 313-338; Robert Ross and Paul Gendreau (eds.), Effective correctional treatment (Toronto: Butterworths Publishing, 1980); Paul Gendreau and Robert Ross,” Revivification of Rehabilitation: Evidence from the 19 Justice-Quarterly 4, no. 3 (1987): 349-408. 5. Ibid.
6. Lori Golden. (2002) Evaluation of the Efficacy of a Cognitive Behavioral Program for Offenders on Probation: Thinking for a Change Dallas: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; citing Steve Aos et al., The Comparative Costs and Benefits of Programs to Reduce Crime: A Review of National Research Findings with Implications for Washington State (Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 1999), doc. no. 99-05-1202.
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