A brief intervention to reduce offending : the study of a faith-based programme : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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Concern about the growing level and cost of criminal behaviour in New Zealand has resulted in a high priority being given to the research and development of effective interventions. The targeting of appropriate interventions to those at greatest risk of reoffending is identified as a key to successful outcomes. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Making Right Choices (MARC) programme in reducing offending of those at moderate to high risk of persisting in criminal conduct. MARC is a brief, faith-based, biblical approach to curtailing offending, developed at Tauranga Community Probation Service between 1993 and 2003. Seven recidivist male offenders, 19 – 26 years of age, volunteered to participate in this study. Five of the participants were prison inmates serving short sentences and two were on supervision in the community. Two risk measures (RoC*RoI and YLS/CLI) were used to ensure that participants met the medium/high risk criteria. In addition to attending the 10-session MARC course, participants were asked to undertake pre- and post-treatment assessments of antisocial attitudes, criminal associations and offending. Sessions were on average 60 minutes long, delivered one-on-one in an office setting. In addition to conviction history from the Law Enforcement System (LES), measures included the Measure of Criminal Attitudes and Associates (MCAA), the Social Problem Solving Inventory for Offenders (SPSIO), the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MCSDS) and the MARC Self-report Measure of Offending (MSMO). Follow-up assessment was carried out 6 months and 12 months after completion of the programme and/or release from prison. Results at six and twelve months after MARC showed that of the seven MARC participants, five had markedly reduced their offending on the selfreport measure, three had significantly less conviction on the LES measure, four recorded a distinct drop in contact with criminal companions and two had noticeably ameliorated their antisocial attitudes. Five participants were able to describe ways they had been helped by the programme. While the limitations of the methods preclude certainty about this programme’s effectiveness, the positive outcomes provide tentative support to the hypothesis that facilitating spiritual change can be an effective way to bring about cognitive and behavioural change with recidivist offenders.
Criminals, Recidivists, Church work with criminals and prisoners, New Zealand, Criminal behaviour, Rehabilitation