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Rehab Programs Cut Recidivism: Study

Adult offenders who participated in rehabilitation programs committed fewer offenses compared with adults who did not participate, according to an analysis released Monday by the National Institute of Justice.

The analysis, prepared by, a website that highlights what works and what doesn’t in justice programs, examined a series of studies of individuals in rehabilitation programs aimed at improving their behaviors, skills, mental health, social functioning, and access to education and employment.

“Overall participation in adult rehabilitation programs is associated with a statistically significant reduction in recidivism,” the analysis said. “However, certain types of treatment services were more successful at reducing recidivism than were others. ”

Successful programs that included group work (structured via protocol or psychoeducational content), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or CBT-like components, counseling, or that used drug court or other specialized court models were “associated with a statistically significant reduction in recidivism,” the analysis said.

But it added “there were no statistically significant reductions in recidivism found for other types of rehabilitation programs,” such as work-related programs, academic programs, supportive residential programs, intensive supervision (such as reduced probation or parole caseloads), multimodal/mixed treatments (such as individual case management), and restorative interventions.

Most programs are delivered within correctional settings while the offender completes his or her sentence, or in community settings following the offender’s release.

Community-based programs may be delivered in inpatient facilities such as psychiatric hospitals and outpatient treatment centers, or in residential housing such as halfway houses.

Many of the rehabilitation programs are designed to reduce criminal behaviors through the positive reinforcement of conventional behaviors learned through observation or modeling. For example, a program may help a participant learn how to manage his or her anger by modeling appropriate responses.

The full account can be read here