Schutt, R., K., Deng, X. and Stoehr, T. (2013). “Using Bibliotherapy to Enhance Probation and Reduce Recidivism.” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 52, 181-197.
Author Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Boston
Artforms: Bibliotherapy, literature
Program: Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL)
Program Description: CLTL provides an alternative to incarceration for repeat, high-risk offenders and seeks to build self-esteem by “enhancing participants’ communication skills, sharpening their analytical skills and providing them with a forum for discussing personal concerns without having to recount personal experiences” ( http://cltl.umassd.edu/programsresults1a.cfm ). Participants selected by the court receive intensive probation, pre-employment/job placement services and meet every other week on a university campus to discuss contemporary literature. The readings and the discussions mirror themes the participants may be dealing with in their own lives, such as violence, masculinity and individual identity. At the conclusion of the bibliotherapeutic portion of the program, local businessmen meet with participants to share their own life experiences and stories of success.
Program (Study) Location: Massachusetts
Study Published: 2013
Participant Type: Adult male and female probationers, probation officers, instructors, judges
● Observation of program process: 28 program participants, 20 probation officers, instructors and judges
● Impact analysis of recidivism: 1,218 adult male and female probationers (604 participants, 614 controls)
● Impact analysis of offense severity: 678 adult male and female probationers (283 participants, 395 controls)
Data Type: Quantitative, Qualitative
● Observation of program process, including: focus group, class observations, semi-structured interviews, structured phone survey
● Impact analysis: recidivism data 18 months pre-program and 18 months post-program for participants were compared with recidivism data for a group of matched controls
Evaluation Focus: Impact of CLTL on participant recidivism
Summary of Impact:
● Observational study of program process: increased pride, self-esteem, social relations, problem-solving, trust and sense of accomplishment; cognitive reframing of issues.
● Impact analysis: During the 18 months prior to CLTL participation vs 18 months post-participation, participants showed a 59.5% decline in incidents versus a 26% decline among controls.. Authors also noted a decline in the most serious charges pre- to post-program. For both measures, the amount of change was greater for the program participants than for the control group.
KEYWORDS: adult, bibliotherapy, Changing Lives Through Literature , cognitive reframing, literature, pride, probation, problem-solving, recidivism, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, social relations, trust