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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Introduction

Background

The Department of Corrections is committed to addressing the behavior modification needs of inmates who have been placed in Close Management (CM) status. CM refers to the confinement of an inmate apart from the general population, for reasons of security or the order and effective management of the institution, where the inmate through his/her own behavior has demonstrated an inability to live in the general population without abusing the rights and privileges of others.

This status is designed to house inmates who commit acts that threaten the security of the institution, or demonstrate an inability to live in the general population without abusing the rights and privileges of others. There are three CM levels (CM 1, CM 2, and CM 3), with CM 1 being the most restrictive and CM 3 being the least restrictive.

In October 1999, Secretary Michael W. Moore appointed a department-wide work group to examine the existing programming offered to CM inmates and recommend a program approach that provides a specialized incentive program structure for inmates to progress from CM status to an open population environment. A program development team was assigned the responsibility of coordinating the development, implementation and assessment of the pilot initiative.

The selected program design (the "Rethinking Personal Choice" [RPC] Program) is based on a cognitive behavioral learning and incentive approach to facilitate the successful reintegration of CM inmates into open population housing in institutions throughout the department.

RPC Goal

Generate CM-releases that function in open population without threatening the security of the institution or abusing the rights and privileges of others.

RPC Objectives

  1. Increase the number of inmates in CM 3 who are released to open population, as compared to a like control group.
  2. Reduce the average duration of time inmates spend in CM 3 prior to release to open population as compared to a like control group.
  3. Decrease the number of recommitments to CM status for a one year period following completion of the RPC program at FSP, as compared to a like control group.
  4. Reduce the number and severity of disciplinary reports of CM 3 inmates while in the RPC program and within one year of release of CM 3 status, as compared to a like control group.
  5. Increase the ability of inmates to control their anger and aggressive behaviors in group and interpersonal situations as demonstrated by a reduction of disciplinary reports received for demonstrations of violent behavior.
  6. Reduce positive drug test rates of CM 3 program participants as compared to a like control group.

RPC Design

The RPC program has been piloted at the Florida State Prison (FSP), beginning on September 1, 2000 with the first RPC class graduating on March 15, 2001. FSP is one of nine current close management facilities, though there will only be four by October 2003: FSP, Santa Rosa Correctional Institution (CI), Charlotte CI, and Lowell CI which houses women. Close management facilities are used for the purpose of housing inmates that are generally the most unmanageable, disruptive, dangerous, and highest risk inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections.

CM programming was implemented in other close management facilities concurrently with implementation of the RPC program at FSP. However, the RPC program is unique and has been limited to FSP. The basic structure, purpose, and criteria for placement in CM status has remained the same across facilities.

The RPC pilot program at FSP integrates institutional work-experience, group learning, group recreation, and personal expression through journaling and volunteer visitation as an integral part of the project design. All of these methods are aimed at preparing inmates to successfully return to open population correctional institution settings.

The RPC design utilizes a combination of distance learning methods as well as traditional learning and teaching strategies. The designated wing which houses selected inmates in CM 3 status is retrofitted with a close-circuit television system and video conferencing equipment. Each cell is equipped with a television that is used for program delivery. An on-site institutional implementation team provides coordination of program activities and operations.

The RPC program includes a progressive incentive approach that provides a specialized structure for inmates to transition from CM status to an open population environment based on the consistent demonstration of appropriate behavior.

Cognitive skills training identifies and addresses patterns of thinking and behaving that inhibit an individual's ability to effectively manage emotions, make constructive decisions, and correct mal-adaptive inter-personal skills. In summary, while behavior modification is a good approach to short-term behavioral change, long-term change depends upon modifying thinking (cognition). This cognitive behavioral modification model recognizes that:

  • cognitive (thinking) activity effects behavior,
  • cognitive activity can be altered, and
  • long-term behavioral change depends upon change in one's thought processes.

In addition, cognitive behavioral modification is concerned not only about how an individual perceives his world, but how he/she actively thinks and functions within his/her world.

RPC Management Strategies

The following management strategies were used during the pilot RPC evaluation period:

  • No change in rules or procedures for CM 1
  • No change in rules or procedures for CM 2
  • CM 3 stratified into three phases (A, B, & C)
  • CM 3A inmates meet the criteria and are pending placement in CM 3B
  • CM 3B designated as first stage of programming to work toward reintegration of CM 3 inmates to open population settings
  • CM 3C designated as second and last stage of programming prior to returning a CM 3 inmate to open population

RPC Minimum Criteria for Entry

Minimum criteria for entry are a recommendation by Institutional Classification Committee (ICC) and a determination by Statewide Classification Office (SCO) that the candidate is suitable for active participation in CM 3 program components (B&C) and will be approved for placement in general population upon satisfactory completion of the program.

Inmates sign agreements to participate in the program and abide by program rules prior to placement. Violations of rules or orders can result in removal from the program and regression to any other level of CM. RPC program staff can recommend modification of conditions and privileges in the program as needed.

RPC Delivery Strategies

CM 3B (phase one of programming) consists of 16 weeks of psycho-educational classes. The programming is delivered through video programming, homework assignments, and individualized instruction at the cell. One hundred and twenty consecutive days of appropriate behavior is required in CM 3B prior to movement to CM 3C.

CM 3C (phase two of programming) consists of 12 weeks of programs designed to meet the individual needs of the offender. The programming is delivered through classroom instruction, group activities, video programming, homework assignments, and individualized instruction at the cell.

RPC Completion

RPC participants are required to complete all components of CM 3B & CM 3C and demonstrate behavior which reflects a willingness and ability to live in an open population setting in a satisfactory manner to qualify for program completion. Recommendations for program completion are initiated by program staff, reviewed & approved by the ICC and reviewed and approved by the SCO. The SCO determines which facility the inmate is transferred to for placement in open population.