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Evaluation of a Group Intervention for Convicted Arsonists with Mild and Borderline Intellectual Disabilities

NCJ Number
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: 2002 Pages: 282-293
John L. Taylor; Ian Thorne; Alison Robertson; Ginny Avery
Date Published
12 pages
This study assessed the effectiveness of an intervention treatment program designed to reduce fire-setting attitudes and behaviors among those with intellectual disabilities (ID).
Fire-setting behavior among people with intellectual disabilities (ID) presents real dangers to society; however little is known about the prevalence of this type of behavior among those with ID. Moreover, little is known about the effect of intervention and treatment programs designed to curb fire setting behavior among people with ID. As such, the authors offered 14 men and women with mild and borderline ID who had previous convictions for arson the opportunity to participate in a cognitive behavioral group-based intervention. All 14 participants completed the approximately 40-session treatment that was aimed at reducing fire setting behavior and attitudes. Participants were assessed pre- and post-treatment regarding anger, self-esteem, depression, and attitudes about fire setting. Assessment instruments utilized included the Fire Interest Rating Scale, the Fire Attitude Scale, the Goal Attainment Scales, the Novaco Anger Scale, the Culture-Free Self Esteem Inventory – Form AD, and the Beck Depression Inventory – Short Form. Results indicated that significant improvements were made in all areas assessed, with the exception of depression. The study is limited by a lack of baseline data and follow-up data. However, the results indicate that intervention programs can be successful at curbing the fire setting behavior of those with ID. Tables, references