CorrectTech Community Corrections Blog

How Full is Your Bucket?

Posted by Lisa Sayler on 12/6/19 2:24 PM

“I don’t get a candy bar every time I do my job, why should a client get something for doing what they are already supposed to do?”  Have you ever thought or heard something like this when discussing positive reinforcement with clients in community corrections?  When research shows positive reinforcement is more effective in long term behavior change, why is it that we tend to default to punish only?  

In my experience managing clients, managing staff, being a mother, wife, mentor and coach, I can attest that it can be easier to sigh, moan and complain about the performance of others.  Every time I find myself pulling out my hair, I realize I haven’t been using one of my best tools, positive reinforcement.  And guess what, when I start using it (or increase my use of it), I see improvement and I feel happier. It is all too easy to only notice what is going wrong and completely pay no attention to what is going right.

Let me offer some tips for success when implementing a positive reinforcement program in your agency.

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Topics: Community Corrections, Evidence Based Practices, Positive Reinforcement, Community Corrections Professional, client development, reentry, EBP, Justice-Involved Clients

We Need More Coaches and Less Referees

Posted by Lisa Sayler on 6/14/19 12:01 AM

What a powerful statement made by Dr. Ed Latessa while speaking about what works and doesn’t work in reducing recidivism at the OCCA conference in May of 2018. Of course, you need referees in a game and metaphorically when running a community corrections program. We must play by and enforce the rules, but coaches win games and make their players successful. Community corrections does need staff that blow the whistle when clients go out of bounds, give appropriate consequences and redirection, but that alone only keeps people in bounds during the game, it doesn’t teach them how to improve their skills and improve long term. In my experience, Dr. Latessa is dead on.  Staff naturally gravitate towards being the rule enforcer rather than the encourager. Getting staff to take on coach as their primary role is something that can’t just be trained, it must be immersed in the daily culture of the program. 

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Topics: Community Corrections, Positive Reinforcement, reaching clients emotions, client needs and values

Catch Them Being Good!

Posted by Evan C. Crist, Psy.D. on 2/4/15 3:47 PM

This is the 9th of a 12 part series on Evidence Based Principles.  Subscribe to our blog and get this series and the upcoming Risk Principle Simplified series delivered right to your inbox.

Principle 5b: Increase Positive Reinforcement

Think about the last dog you trained. Opting for praise and treats was not a challenge. Everyone knows that positive reinforcement should outweigh punishment when attempting to train a new behavior. Somehow, it seems we forget this lesson when it comes to people.

Perhaps we expect more out of people than dogs. Maybe it is the years of “tough on crime” mentality. Is it possible that we are hard wired to think of punishment before praise? While diligence is required, it is certainly possible to transform an environment focused on punishment to one centered on “catching them being good.”

Offender treatment research indicates that at a minimum, clients should receive at least four positive reinforcements for each punishment. Some family and marital research indicates that this ratio holds true for parenting and spousal relationships.

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Topics: Community Corrections, Evidence Based Practices, Practices, Positive Reinforcement

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