About three years ago, as a result of the previous work by Donald V. Taylor (vice president of business development for Daymar College) and through the assistance of Greg Gabis (Daymar College), a pilot program was initiated in the Southwest Region of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC).  The New Directions™ - An Investment in the Future course, which was created by Lou Tice and developed by others from The Pacific Institute®, was used to explore the impact personal development may have on the successful reintegration of ex-offenders.

The New Directions™ course is designed to increase an incarcerated individual’s sense of personal accountability, while enabling success in reducing individual and system-wide recidivism. Its ultimate goal is helping each individual become a productive, contributive citizen in their community.

By providing the cognitive science behind the human thought processes, and how they affect our decisions and behaviors, the New Directions™ program encourages participants to:

  • Improve decision-making abilities
  • Raise one’s self-esteem
  • Increase self-efficacy
  • Understand and employ their own creative thinking to foresee a successful future
  • Develop the skills, attitudes, and beliefs that will help create a desired life

The focus of New Directions™ for a prison or jail population is behavioral modification and cognitive restructuring. The power of the program is that the participants choose to make the behavior and cognitive changes that they believe are necessary to become productive and successful citizens. The Southwest Regional Director of ODRC, Robin Knab, was looking for such a program to encourage residents in correctional communities to plan for their future selves.  Correctional residents have responded quite well to the thought processes and goal-setting that is part of the New Directions™ course.

Under the direction of Robin Knab, residents in the seven correctional communities in the Southwest Region were trained to become peer facilitators of the New Directions™ program. These peer-led programs effectively address the issue of responsivity as part of the positive outcomes with New Directions™.  (Peer-led programs help defer the cost of reintegration programs that residents in correctional communities so desperately need as part of their rehabilitation.) The New Directions™ program is taught to peer facilitators, as well as specific facilitation skills, and they are encouraged to model expected behaviors among students and other residents in their institution. The main behavior changes that are of importance to the Department of Corrections are the reduction of refusals to lock down, resident-on-resident violence, and resident-on-corrections staff violence.

Residents are expected to complete various programs as part of their reintegration process. The impact of the New Directions™ program, as a part of a resident’s education for behavioral modification, cannot be discounted. New Directions™ offers a unique and positive perspective to the process of reentering society. Those who have completed the New Directions™ program show a significant increase (approximately 30%) in their personal beliefs and self-efficacy regarding their ability to become productive and successful restored citizens.

The challenges facing the entire corrections structure, from federal to state to local jurisdictions, are not new and many different options have been applied in order to slow down, if not stop, the revolving door of recidivism. Because of the initial positive results of the New Directions™ program, we are looking to present future articles that will cover the changes in persistence, self-efficacy, possible selves, and cognitive-behavioral change.

For more information, you may contact Phillip Rutherford at pcrutherford@gmail.com.

Respectfully submitted,

Phillip C. Rutherford