The Learning Resources Program (LRP) was initially operationalized in 1994 with the advent of the provincial Electronic Monitoring Program as a strategy to provide community-based multi-faceted group psychotherapy to offenders subject to a conditional sentence (house arrest) as well as those who were released from custody under the conditions of a Rehabilitative Temporary Absence. The focus is concentrated on the criminogenic needs of offenders with the goal of reducing recidivism. Criminogenic needs are attitudes and behaviours which contribute to criminal activity but which can be changed so that the risk of re-offending is reduced. Attitudes which favour a criminal life-style, association with offenders and abuse of alcohol or drugs are some of the the more important factors which are targeted in the programs offered at the Learning Resources Program.
Most programs are structured to be either moderate intensity or high intensity. Not only is the type of programming identified to address the offender’s needs but it must also be determined if the client is at moderate or high-risk to re-offend. This will determine if the client requires a more lengthy and intensive program.
Eligibility for Programming
Clients may be referred to the LRP from a number of sources:
- Adult probation officers may refer a client when the probation order or conditional sentence order contains a condition to participate in programming.
- Classification officers may refer clients who are released from custody under the terms of a Temporary Absence.
- Classification officers may also refer clients who are still in custody but have agreed to particpate in programming (this applies only to sex offenders and inmates who require anger management.
The programs offered by the Learning Resources Program include the following:
- Anger Management – a program which deals with moderate-risk and high-risk clients who have difficulty in managing their anger in non-domestic situations. It is offered at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) as well.
- Criminal Behaviour Awareness – a continuous intake program often offered in conjunction with anger management, and designed to target dynamic risk factors such as anti-social attitudes and values, pro-criminal associations, substance abuse and anti-social behaviour patterns.
- Family Violence – a program intended for individuals who have been found guilty of threatening or assaultive behaviour against an intimate partner or family member. There are 3 facets to the Family Violence program:
(1) OASIS (Options and Alternative Skills for Interpersonal Safety Program) – a program that provides programming for family violence offenders whose probation order, conditional sentence order or temporary absence permit requires them to take treatment;
(2) Family Violence Intervention Court – Some clients are referred by a special court dealing with family violence offenses. Clients must agree to plead guilty but sentencing is delayed until the client completes the Family Violence Program;
(3) Turning Points – This is a program designed specifically for women who are found guilty of family violence offenses.
- Sex Offender Intervention – an initiative targeting moderate-risk offenders convicted of sex-related offenses. Clients are assessed using the STABLE assessment instrument after which they enter into a counseling arrangement for the purpose of addressing those specific factors which promote their sexual offending. This form of intervention is provided at HMP as well as in the community.
- Intermittent Sentence Workshop – a two-day weekend psycho-educational workshop targeting impaired drivers and delivered periodically at the LRP. The workshop is coordinated jointly by the LRP and HMP personnel.
- Maintenance – which although not a program in itself, supplements the group therapy by requiring high-risk clients to attend up to six additional sessions with a counselor either during, or following, completion of a specific program. The objective of the maintenance phase, in essence a relapse prevention strategy, is to reinforce the knowledge, skills and positive changes in attitudes and behaviours which clients have achieved through the group therapy process.
Admission to one or more programs at the Learning Resources Program follows the following process:
- Referral from either an adult probation officer or a classification officer.
- Intake interview conducted by a group facilitator at the LRP to gain a better understanding of the client’s background and needs; in the case of sex offenders, a comprehensive assessment tool called STABLE is administered.
- Program assignment is determined as well as the program intensity level.
- The client is provided with a schedule of sessions for the program ranging from 10-24, 2 hour sessions.
- In some cases, it may be more appropriate to provide individual counselling rather than group therapy.
- Upon completion of the group therapy or individual counselling, a report is prepared by the program facilitator and forwarded to the referring agency; this report will provide a summary of the client’s progress in the program, the areas which still need to be addressed as well as recommendations regarding other programs which may be considered.
- Clients who fail to participate appropriately may be dismissed from the program.
Benefits to the Client
Potential clients may want to consider the benefits of participating in programming at the LRP:
- It is an opportunity to discuss personal problems with highly qualified counsellors in a private and confidential setting.
- Clients will also be able to share similar experiences with others in a positive, respectful group learning process.
- It is an opportunity to learn new ways of thinking and acting by being exposed to new ideas, effective coping skills, problem-solving abilities and other techniques in areas such as anger management, family violence and sexual offending.
- Clients will gain new insights, not only about themselves, but also about the impact that their behaviour has had on others.
- The LRP will assist in making referrals to other support services such as employment preparation, addictions services, housing, educational upgrading, etc.