Underlying theory for correctional interventions

Underlying theory

Many experts on correctional treatment contend that correctional treatment programs should be grounded in psychological theory.


Explain why having an underlying theory for correctional interventions is important.

Briefly describe the psychology of criminal conduct as a general framework, and provide a brief description of behavioral, cognitive and social learning theories in particular.

Explain how correctional programs should operationalize these theories in correctional interventions specifically.


Question 2


The year is 2018, and you are an expert and consultant on correctional effectiveness.  The new Director of Programs for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections calls you to say that he would like you to speak at an upcoming conference on the importance of treatment interventions for sex offenders. In your response, please address:

How have behavioral interventions been applied to the treatment of sex offenders?  Are these programs effective?  What are some of the ethical considerations and/or other challenges associated with the approaches?

How have cognitive and social learning interventions been applied to the treatment of sex offenders?  Why is it important for these approaches to be integrated into treatment programs for sex offenders?

Is cognitive-behavioral treatment for sex offenders effective in reducing recidivism? What are the implications for correctional policy?


Question 3


Risk assessment is considered to be the cornerstone of effective correctional interventions. The results should be used to guide decision-making in the criminal justice system.


How have risk/need assessments for offender populations evolved over the years?  What did the earliest risk assessment models (i.e., first, second and third generation risk assessments) look like and what purpose did these models serve?  What do the more recent models look like?

What are risk/need assessments intended to do?  How do we know when a risk assessment is working?

Describe the issues that should be considered in selecting a risk/need assessment protocol for a specialized population like sex offenders. What additional factors should be assessed and how should this information be integrated with the results of more “traditional” criminogenic needs?


Note: Your answer should discuss Bonta’s generations of risk assessment.  It should also sort risk assessment options according to the correctional purposes served by each type of risk assessment.


Question 4


Describe three specific ways in which correctional treatments should be adjusted for substance abusers in the correctional system.

Define what is meant by harm reduction approaches.  What are pros and cons of this approach to substance abuse treatment?  Are these treatments effective?  Why do you think that these models are less popular in the United States?  Do you think that they feasible in your own jurisdiction?  Why or why not?