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CEP: Innovation in probation: a pilot on the feasibility of e-guidance for juveniles

To change criminal behaviour, motivation, time, attention, practice and feedback are the ingredients for success. Especially youngsters can find it difficult to change their behaviour. Many regions in their brain are still developing, meaning they have less cognitive control than adults when it comes to attention, thoughts and behaviour. Mayke Mol and Janine Plaisier, (GGZinGeest & Impact R&D) have conducted a pilot for an innovative automated and personalised computer system that probation officers can use to remind youngsters of their goals and give them exercises. We spoke to Mayke Mol about how they conducted the pilot.

Impact R&D is an organisation that focusses on research and development of methods for behavioural change. “In order to reduce recidivism, the prison system and probation organisations try to change the behaviour of offenders. Current methods that aim to do so, such as risk assessment instruments, probation supervision and behavioural interventions, are based on scientific insights. The results of these methods are fairly consistent, but limited. International research suggests that effective behavioural interventions for offenders generally lead to approximately 10-25% less recidivism, but sometimes also have no, or even negative, effects. As Impact R&D has extensive experience in researching the impact of behavioural interventions, we decided to investigate how current results could be improved.” This is when they came up with the idea for e-guidance.

According to Mayke Mol, until now, there has been no form of well-researched e-guidance developed that is aimed completely at the offender, is customisable and deals not just with practical matters, but is genuinely aimed at achieving goals and learning how to behave in a different way. The e-guidance system was tested on 46 boys, of which 35 were under supervision of juvenile probation services and 11 had voluntarily requested help at an institution for social work and child protection.

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