Quality, Integrity, & Accountability in Community Corrections

The Paterson CRC recently selected two clients as winners of an essay contest that was held at the facility in an effort to enhance client participation.   The Client Essay Contest was part of a larger Incentive Program implemented at the Paterson CRC that offers rewards for client participation. Clients were asked to write a personal essay stating what advice they would give themselves if they could go back before they committed their first offense.

The Paterson CRC recently selected two clients as winners of an essay contest that was held at the facility in an effort to enhance client participation.

The Client Essay Contest was part of a larger Incentive Program implemented at the Paterson CRC that offers rewards for client participation. Clients were asked to write a personal essay stating what advice they would give themselves if they could go back before they committed their first offense. 

“Never give up because overcoming adversity makes you a better person,” wrote one former CRC client in his winning essay.

At Kintock, [I’ve] “learned to think about my actions while I still have the chance to change them,” wrote another client, in his winning essay.

In evaluating the essays, “we looked for effort, content, openness, and self-exposure,” explained Christopher Ross, Program Director of the Paterson CRC.

Winners of the contest were awarded prizes, which included gift certificates to fast food restaurants.  In the future, books will be added as rewards, according to Mr. Ross.

Motivating Clients

“We know that clients who actively engage in the opportunities we offer at Kintock are better prepared and therefore have a greater chance of success when they return to their communities,” said Pierre Francis, CRC Site Administrator.

“With this in mind, we wanted to provide an opportunity for clients to receive acknowledgement for making positive contributions to the group. The incentive programs provide that in addition to giving clients an avenue to participate in constructive competition,” explained Mr. Francis.

“Clients are awarded coupons for above average group participation,” explained Mr. Ross. “The clients with the most coupons are given special privileges. These privileges may include extra time at lunch or early dismissal. Clients that amass the most at the end of the month are eligible for other prizes, including gift certificates for McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, and Pathmark,” he added.

Openness Inspires Others

“The goal is to encourage clients to contribute to the group,” noted Mr. Ross. “It’s not enough to give one word or one sentence responses to the group facilitator. We want to see clients sharing their experiences and openly communicating with their peers. When one person opens up, it becomes infectious and inspires others in the group to contribute to the discussion. It’s a win-win for everyone,” added Mr. Ross.

“This level of participation can be challenging for many clients initially as it may evoke a feeling of vulnerability that is counter to the maladaptive coping mechanisms they may’ve relied upon in the past,” acknowledged Mr. Ross. “But clients who can push past those insecurities and take advantage of the safe and supportive group environment by sharing their struggles and providing feedback to others stand to achieve the greatest growth and change,” said Mr. Ross.

“Ultimately, while clients may initially be motivated by the opportunity for a reward, most clients report a sense of satisfaction with the experience and learn the benefits of making positive contributions in real life circumstances. It is our hope, that this intrinsic reward will become equally as motivating as the gift certificates,” he added. “In this way, we are able demonstrate to clients some of the concepts that we teach through the Motivational Enhancement curriculum that Kintock employs in its programming.

To date, in addition to the two clients awarded a prize for their participation in the essay contest, more than 10 clients have been awarded gift certificates for group participation.

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