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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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Therapeutic communities for individuals with personality disorders

Adult Criminal Justice
  Literature review updated December 2016.
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Prison-based therapeutic communities are an intensive form of therapeutic treatment. Participants live in a continuous therapeutic environment apart from the general prison population. Therapeutic communities use a hierarchical social learning model, wherein participants earn increased social and personal responsibility as they progress through stages of treatment. Treatment involves a highly structured therapeutic environment, peer support and peer accountability intended to teach participants prosocial norms and behaviors. Participants may remain in the therapeutic community for 12 to 22 months with programming on weekdays and live-in staff.

Only one rigorous evaluation could be located for this population.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases. See Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes for additional information.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect size(ES) and standard error(SE) Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
ES SE Age ES p-value
30 1 694 -0.175 0.125 32 -0.175 0.159

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Taylor, R. (2000). A seven-year reconviction study of HMP Grendon therapeutic community (Research Findings No. 115). London: Home Office.