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Community Interventions for Reluctant Clients

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 43 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1979) Pages: 37-42
J D Kloss; J Karan
Date Published
6 pages
The Complex Offender Project (COP) was developed for those probationers between ages 18 and 30 who had prior convictions and a history of mental illness or difficulty, and who were making an inadequate community adjustment.
COP admitted 60 randomly selected probationers to its treatment program over 3 years of operation, which involved four steps. First, outreach techniques shifted responsibility for maintaining contact from client to staff, so that COP staff was committed to making rounds of family, friends, and agencies to re-recruit the client. Moreover, outreach implied taking services to the client rather than initially expecting regular attendance at scheduled office appointments. Family therapy more often occurred in the home, an advantageous situation because there the client's problems were generally more apparent and immediate. Secondly, COP acknowledged the importance of staff-client rapport, allowing some client selection of their therapist, emphasizing informal meeting places, and developing methods for contact that included attending the theater or going out to dinner. Third, COP utilized negotiated treatment contracts to facilitate participation and cooperation by involving the client in the selection of personally meaningful goals and by obtaining a formal commitment to participate. These treatment contracts were behaviorally specific stated explicit expectations for both the client and the staff, and emphasized self-determination. Daily goal attainment measures were taken, and the written document served to arbitrate any disagreements between client and staff. Financial incentives were a fourth aspect of the program, such as paying for clients' completion of high school equivalency examinations. Over 3 years of opeation, COP spent approximately $380 per client per year, of which only 40 percent was paid contingently. These incentives were problematic in that some clients used them for extra income only; however, in some instances they were the only method by which to retain the client. COP did result in significantly changed trends in recidivism, psychiatric hospitalization, unemployment, and dependent living. Sixteen references are provided.