To reduce recidivism and increase pro-social behavior by changing an offenders' thoughts, attitudes and beliefs through research-based cognitive programming.

Why Provide Cognitive-Behavioral Programming?

  • Designed to change criminal thinking and behavior
  • Hold offenders accountable for their behavior
  • Interventions are structured and directive
  • Effectiveness of these interventions in changing criminal behavior has been demonstrated in numerous scientific studies

The Cognitive Behavioral Unit of Risk Reduction Services conducted a four-year study to measure the effect Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) had on reducing recidivism. The study began in 2004 and included more than 2,600 offenders at six GDC Transitional Centers (LaGrange, Albany, Coastal, Metro, Macon and Augusta). Results showed a 10% reduction in the return to prison rate for offenders who completed step seven or higher in the program compared to the control group.

Over twenty-five years of data and experience have now been accumulated on MRT®. Data from all sources show consistency and significant beneficial effects from use of this treatment method. Offenders at all levels of custody appear able to participate successfully in MRT® and staff trained in the method show enhanced effectiveness and enthusiasm. MRT® appears to reduce violations and increase success with probationers and parolees. In jails, community corrections, halfway houses, and prisons, MRT® results in significantly lowered misconducts (ranging from 40% to 55% less misconducts) and in significantly lower reincarcerations years after treatment (ranging in reincarceration rates 60% to 25% lower).

Profile of Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)

MRT® was one of the first comprehensive, systematic attempts to treat substance abusing offenders from a purely cognitive behavioral perspective. In 1985, formal MRT® was developed by Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Ken Robinson by combining Smothermon's concepts with theories of moral development (Kohlberg), ego and identity development (Erikson), behavioral conditioning, Maslow's needs hierarchy, and Carl Jung's concepts. MRT® is an objective, systematic treatment system designed to enhance ego, social, moral, and positive behavioral growth in a progressive step by step fashion. MRT® has 12 to 16 steps, depending on the treatment population. MRT® attempts to change how drug abusers and alcoholics make decisions and judgments by raising moral reasoning from Kohlberg's perspective. Briefly, MRT® seeks to move clients from hedonistic (pleasure vs. pain) reasoning levels to levels where concern for social rules and others becomes important. Research on MRT® has shown that as clients pass steps, moral reasoning increases in adult drug and alcohol offenders and juvenile offenders. MRT® focuses on changing criminal attitudes, beliefs, values, thinking pattern, and behaviors. MRT® has proven to reduce the recidivism rate of offenders from 30% - 50% after 10 years of release.

Thinking for a Change (T4C)

T4C is an integrated, cognitive behavioral program for offenders that includes cognitive restructuring, problem solving, and skill-building. The program helps offenders identify the reasoning they use that reinforces criminal behavior. The program also helps them develop positive attitudes and beliefs to counter the negative ones that continue to get them into trouble. Many offenders ignore problems until they're too big for them to handle. That's why it's important for the T4C program to address this issue as well.

Currently, there are more than 400 trained cognitive facilitators in GDC. MRT and T4C are offered in over 100 GDC sites including state prisons, private prisons, and some county prisons.


Talisha Moody, Program Director 1
Risk Reduction Services


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