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Delaware Department of Correction Life Skills Program

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19 pages
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This paper describes the components of the Delaware Department of Correction's 4-month Life Skills Program: academics, violence reduction, and applied life skills; the program's impact on recidivism is also considered.
The program is offered twice a year to up to 150 minimum- security and medium-security inmates during each cycle. The program meets for 3 hours on weekdays. The core of the program is Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), which is a systematic, step-by- step process of raising the moral-reasoning level of students through a series of moral and cognitive stages. Students read "How to Escape Your Prison," a workbook developed especially for inmates; it includes group exercises. Although MRT was designed as a tool for reducing violence, the five Life Skills teachers gear much of their academic and applied life skills work around MRT exercises and principles. An independent evaluation of the Delaware Life Skills Program found that, for the first program cycle, 19 percent of Life Skills students in the four State prisons reoffended within 1 year after release, compared with 27 percent of a group of inmates who did not participate; however, the number of students and nonparticipants examined was small, and the difference in recidivism rates between them was not statistically significant. Further analysis of existing data and ongoing data collection will show any correlation between the Delaware Life Skills Program and reduced recidivism. The program began with a Federal grant and is now funded entirely by the State at a cost of $145,000 in fiscal year 1997. Suggestions are offered for replicating the program. Listing of 8 sources for information and 12 notes

Date Published: January 1, 1998