Mental health issues are a major cause of criminal activities. Reducing the risk of criminal recidivism among individuals with mental health issues who are involved in the justice system can be a challenging task as there is a strong tendency to return to a life of crime.
A clinical trial has explored the use of Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) in reducing the risk of criminal recidivism in patients admitted to mental health facilities.
MRT is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that aims to help individuals develop a more moral reasoning framework by focusing on seven core principles: honesty, obedience, responsibility, forgiveness, gratitude, humility, and acceptance. The therapy is typically delivered in a group setting and involves various exercises and activities that are designed to promote these values.
One of the key benefits of MRT is that it is relatively short-term, typically lasting between three and six months. This makes it an attractive option for individuals who are receiving residential treatment and may have limited access to ongoing therapy after they leave the facility. However, despite being implemented widely in correctional settings, strong clinical trials of MRT, and its effectiveness in reducing recidivism among justice-involved adults are unknown.
A clinical trial, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, has explored the safety and effectiveness of Moral Reconation Therapy in reducing the likelihood of these individuals returning to a life of crime.
The trial, which was conducted by a team of researchers from various institutions, involved 341 justice-involved adults who were receiving residential mental health treatment. The participants were randomly assigned to either receive MRT (2 sessions per week for 12 weeks) or standard treatment, which included various forms of counseling, medication, and other supportive services. Follow-ups were conducted at 6 and 12-month intervals. The outcomes measured were criminal thinking, criminal associates, days incarcerated, re-arrest, substance use, and employment and family/social problems.
Over the course of twelve months, the researchers tracked the participants' progress and found that those who received MRT had a similar risk of criminal recidivism compared to those who received treatment as usual. The rate of being rearrested and charged within 1 year was 20.2% for standard treatment and 24.9% for MRT. These results show that MRT was not more effective than standard treatment for these patients.
ConclusionOverall, the results of this study suggest that MRT may not be a valuable tool for reducing the risk of criminal recidivism among justice-involved adults with mental health issues.
The trial's findings provide valuable insights into the lack of effectiveness of MRT for reducing criminal recidivism among individuals with mental health issues who are involved in the justice system. It goes on to demonstrate that MRT does not provide any additional benefit compared to standard treatment in these patients. This emphasizes the need to develop newer methods for preventing criminal recidivism in these patients.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, April 2022