An Independent Evaluation of Mode Deactivation Therapy for Juvenile Offenders

Article excerpt

About 5% of juvenile offenders are responsible for the majority of crimes committed by juveniles (Moffit, 1993; Mulder, Brand, Bullens, & Van Marle, 2010; Schumacher & Kurz, 2000). This group continues with their criminal careers into adulthood and evolves into committing more serious offenses (Mulder et al., 2010; Moffitt & Caspi, 2001).

Conduct problems are observed early in this group of adolescents (Patterson, 2002). In fact, some of the initial behavioral difficulties are manifested and observed in children as young as two or three years of age (Keenan, 2001; Loeber and Farrington, 2000; Nee & Ellis, 2005). The peer groups of these children are exposed to their deviant attitudes and behaviors and can show a related increase in their own deviancy. Deviancy training often occurs through deviant talk and the bonding and reinforcement of such talk in other children (Snyder, Stoolmiller, Patterson, Schrepferman, Oeser, Johnson, & Soetaert, 2003).

Nee and Ellis (2005) purported that for treatment to be effective, it needs to be responsive to the evolving needs of the child and, later, the adolescent. It is important that interventions for antisocial behavior be dictated by the needs of the clients and be provided at a level of intensity corresponding to the level of disruptive behaviors present. As the problems are solidified, later programs need to target the function of the antisocial behavior and often can be very intensive (e.g., Thoder, Hesky, & Cautilli, 2010).

Often, the youth with more ingrained antisocial thoughts and behaviors are placed in residential treatment programs by adolescents (Barker, 1998;Underwood, Baggett-Talbott, Mosholder, & Von Dresner, 2008 ). Many of the evidenced based treatments that exist in Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) have been normed on groups with less intense problems then residential youth (Underwood, Baggett-Talbott, Mosholder, & Von Dresner, 2008). In addition, the opportunities for youth in residential facilities to learn inappropriate behavior is high (Barker, 1998). These factors may contribute to why overall, the U.S. Surgeon General Report (1999) residential programs to be ineffective.

Non-behaviorally based residential programs have shown a failure to reduce aggressive and antisocial behavior (Joshi & Rosenberg, 1997). In longitudinal study, by year seven, children discharged from publicly funded RTCs in six states in the United States were either readmitted to mental health facilities (about 45%) or incarcerated in a correctional setting (about 30%) (Greenbaum et al.,1998). That makes the rate of failure approximately 75%. The need for effective residential treatment is critical.

The use of behavioral principles in more intensive programs have been found to reduce aggressive and disruptive behavior (Chen & Ma, 2007). When taken into a psychologically informed context, contingency management systems can have a powerful effect (Andrew, Zinger, Hoge, Bonta, Gendereau" &Cullen, 1990). Residential programs based on behavioral principles have had mixed results, but recent research suggests that they may be helpful in breaking the cycle of violence both in the program and after discharge (Kingsley, 2006). However, the mechanism for change and which adolescents will respond remain unclear (Kingsley, Ringle, Thompson, Chmelka, & Ingram, 2008).

Overall, behavioral and cognitive behavioral programs have been successful in reducing recidivism (Redondo Illescas, Sanchez-Meca and Garrido Genoves & 2001) and misconduct in correctional settings (French & Gendreau, 2006). Several well-conducted meta-analyses have identified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a particularly effective intervention for reducing recidivism (Landenberger & Lipsey, 2005). Specifically with adolescents, CBT has been identified as an effective approach to treating juvenile delinquency and reducing recidivism (Latessa, 2006; Lipsey, 1999; Pealer & Latessa, 2004; Roush, 2008). …