Recommendations for Prison Rehabilitation Therapy and Educational Programs for Schools

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Rehabilitation Therapy for Prison Inmates

  • My recommendations for rehabilitating inmates are based on my experiences with convicted sex offenders who were inmates of the Farmington Correctional Center in Missouri.  These men seemed to have a void in understanding and an inability to be effective in interpersonal communication.

  • The prison rehabilitation program stressed the importance of empathy and the right of women to reject unwanted sexual initiatives.  However, these men did not seem to understand that their future interactions would require more skills if they did not want to fall back into their previous deviant patterns.

  • The instructors in the Missouri Sex Offenders Program at the prison taught the inmates about the four main phases in the deviant cycle of sexual behavior: the pretend-normal phase, the build-up phase, the acting-out phase, and the justification phase.

The program explains how "seemingly unimportant decisions," such as a sexually deviant person deciding to argue with his girlfriend, "triggers sexual deviance…thoughts, feelings, behaviors and situations that negatively affect their commitment to abstain from sexually deviant behavior, and threaten their ability to maintain self-control" (Missouri Sexual Offenders Program, 1998, pp. 3-5).

  • It is important to teach offenders good interpersonal communication skills.  A study by Pithers, Marques, Gibat, & Marlatt found that 75% of relapses into sexual deviance followed situations that resulted in a negative emotional state, while 20% of relapses followed interpersonal conflict.  Interpersonal communication skills are important because they help the offender successfully navigate their daily communications with others so they do not "trigger" their sexual deviance by abandoning "normal" conditions and finding themselves in a "high risk situation" (1983, pp. 215-216).

  • Randy Green, author of the chapter "Psycho-Educational Models" in ting the Incarcerated Male Sex Offender (1988) says many treatment programs for sex offenders teach "pro-social beliefs and attitudes, as well as knowledge, skills, and abilities which the offender lacks" (p. 95). 

  • The inmates that he talks about improved their communication skills with victim awareness/empathy, cognitive restructuring (changing their thinking process), assertiveness training, and social skill training.

  • Through this training, the men recognized the myths that society reinforces which perpetuate sexual assaults, developed empathy for their own victims, shifted their focus from themselves to others, identified their own verbal and nonverbal social skill deficiencies, and developed an ability to interpret verbal and nonverbal communication cues.

  • I recommend that an inmate should have to demonstrate that he can use the skills he has learned before being allowed to complete the course.  An inmate who attends the program but does not demonstrate these new skills would not be allowed to complete it.  Anything less than this requirement of competency is a disservice to the inmates and the women they may later encounter.  Without developing these skills, they will be likelier to fall back into the cycle of deviance.  Role playing with female volunteers or specialists would be essential in teaching inmates these communication skills. 

 

 

  Gender Equality and Relational Communication Classes

  • My final proposal is much broader and more daunting than my first.  My research has shown that the socialization of men teaches young boys falsehoods and degrading perspectives of women.  Although this is quite a substantial undertaking, I want to try to tackle this deep-seated male gender bias that permeates our society.

  • I recommend education, specifically, that gender equality and relational communication classes be taught at the elementary and secondary educational levels.  Students would be instructed on interpersonal communication skills, especially empathy with the other gender, so they will grow up and be able to effectively interrelate on dates.

  • My suggestion is along the lines of what Jenkins and Dambrot have said: "Ultimately, prevention of date rape may depend on widespread basic social change in attitudes toward sex roles, aggression and sexuality, and the expectations and rules of the dating game." (1987, p. 893).

  • Fitchen, et al. discuss the lack of education on "social perception skills," specifically within the realm of dating.

  • Sawyer, Pinciaro, and Jessell (1998, p. 53) recommend what should be included in this education of young men and women so they can avoid society's negative socialization. 

Communication skills must be taught, including issues related to sexual negotiation and gender differences.  Though most students do understand that "no" means "no," all other messages are not as clear-cut.  Thus, programs should stress that it is important to strongly state "no" when sexual intercourse is not desired, as well as the need to recognize that "ambiguous communication" or "no communication" should not be interpreted by either gender as consent. 

  • A close friend and academic associate with an extensive background in K-12 education feels that parent associations would vehemently oppose an education like this, especially during elementary school.  They may mistake the program to be a vehicle to discuss and endorse sex among their children. 

  • An advocate would have to meet with parent associations to discuss the program and provide statistics about date rape and unreported estimates.  They would also need to create different versions of the program for children of different ages.

  • This recommendation of interpersonal communication education, although difficult to implement, would include Glaser and Strauss' (1967) "access variable" in shaping children's minds before negative societal influences do, and a "control variable" through which their education teaches appropriate male-female interaction.