This study sought to replicate the findings from an earlier experimental evaluation of a probation officer training program.
An experimental design was used with an improvement in the random assignment of clients and was tested with a sample of probation officers from a new jurisdiction. An experimental design was used with an improvement in the random assignment of clients and was tested with a sample of probation officers from a new jurisdiction. Probation officers from the Canadian province of Alberta were randomly assigned to training or probation-as-usual. Officer behavior was measured by audio recordings of supervision sessions and recidivism was defined as a new conviction within 2 years of the initial recording. Attrition resulted in 27 probation officers submitting audio recordings of supervision sessions over a 6-month period (15 in the experimental group and 12 in the control). There were 160 recordings of 81 probationers submitted. The audio recordings showed inconsistent changes in officer behavior and no differences in recidivism between the clients of the experimental and control probation officers. However, the use of cognitive techniques by the probation officers was associated with a longer time to recidivism. In addition, by 10 months, more than half of the trained officers stopped their involvement in ongoing professional development activities. Although the study failed to replicate the major findings reported by Bonta et al., it did highlight the importance of cognitive techniques in officer training. The results are interpreted with respect to the replication literature and the difficulties inherent in direct and conceptual replications especially in real-world settings. (Published abstract provided)
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