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Implementing an Effective Behavior Management System

Course Description

Effective programming is critical to facilitating individual growth and driving a positive culture among corrections professionals. Over forty years of research exists that outlines the key components consistently associated with the highest reductions in recidivism. These foundational program elements have been termed as the Principles of Effective Intervention (PEI; Gendreau, 1996). Part of this framework identifies core correctional practices (CCPs) that enhance services when they are present (Dowden & Andrews, 2004). Behavior management techniques (i.e., effective reinforcement, effective disapproval, effective use of authority, prosocial modeling) are the foundational piece to CCPs that underscore the process in which behaviors can change. Many correctional jurisdictions have begun to explore the integration of systematic behavior management approaches designed to modify behaviors and promote long-term behavior change.

Behavior management systems (BMS) are built on the principles of operant conditioning, which suggests that all behaviors are learned based on consequences that result from one’s actions. Behaviors that receive pleasure responses are more likely to be repeated, whereas behaviors that receive unpleasant responses will likely be discontinued in the future. Within a well-designed BMS, reinforcers (i.e., incentives) are provided to increase the occurrence of desirable, pro-social behaviors while punishers (i.e., sanctions) are used to reduce the frequency of undesirable, anti-social behaviors. Reinforcers are intended to increase the frequency of a behavior. In contrast, sanctions are meant to reduce the occurrence of antisocial behavior. Therefore, specific behaviors are targeted for change through reinforcement or punishment.

The purpose of this workshop is to review the theoretical underpinnings for BMS and understand how behavior management techniques can be used to shape behavior and promote individual success. An example outline of this workshop is as follows:

  1. Welcome & Introductions
  2. Review of Theoretical Foundation
    1. The Principles of Effective Intervention
    2. Operant Conditioning
  3. Behavior Management Systems
    1. Components
      1. Target Behaviors
      2. Incentives
      3. Sanctions
    2. Application
      1. Building menus of reinforcers/sanctions
      2. Developing response grids

About the Instructor

Lindsey M. Mueller will be facilitating this workshop. Lindsey Mueller serves as a Director of Corrections Programs for Management and Training Corporation (MTC). Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati, with research concentrated on behavior management systems with supervised populations. Before pursing her doctorate degree, she served as a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Case Manager, working in direct care. Areas of special focus throughout her career include: effective correctional programming, behavior management systems, gender-related risk factors, institutional misconduct, and employment and vocation programs in prison. She is committed to bridging the gap between research and practice through the implementation of best practices in correctional settings.

Last Updated: 7/10/19