This paper reports on evaluations of the Victorian correctional department's (Australia) implementation of James McGuire's (2000) Cognitive Skills Program in community corrections venues and prisons throughout the State.
The Cognitive Skills Program developed by James McGuire is based on an extensive body of research that has found a link between deficits in social problem solving and offending. The Cognitive Skills Program is a group-based intervention designed to reduce offending by training participants in social problem solving skills. The four main components are training in problem solving, self-management, social interactions, and values. The training focuses on the application of problem solving techniques that will avoid criminal behavior and reinforce beneficial behaviors. Modeling, class activities, and homework assignments are used to teach the skills. The evaluations used guidelines for program implementation proposed by Gendereau, Goggin, and Smith (1999). These guidelines focus on organizational issues, staffing, the change agent, and program factors. A total of 136 staff from all levels of the correctional system provided information pertinent to evaluation criteria. The evaluations found that the failure to develop guidelines and standards for program delivery prior to implementation resulted in inappropriate referrals; inconsistent staff training; and organizational issues, notably workload allowances for program facilitators. Program integrity was a concern for staff in both community corrections and prisons, as the majority of facilitators reported a failure to adhere strictly to the program manual. 4 tables and 26 references