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Assessing the Role of Neuropsychological Functioning in Inmates' Treatment Response

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2006
104 pages
This report presents results from an examination of the fundamental differences in the executive cognitive functions (ECF) and emotional perception and regulation between inmates who respond favorably to standard correctional treatments and those who respond poorly.
The findings indicated that inmates with ECF, in particular impulsivity, were less likely to respond to standard correctional treatment favorably, were more likely to drop out of treatment, and were more disruptive during treatment. The results thus supported the main hypothesis that performance deficits in ECF tasks and emotional responses would characterize disruptive inmates and predict their treatment response. Other factors that predicted treatment outcomes of ECF inmates included history of physical abuse, age of inmate, and the experience of psychological problems within the past 30 days. Factors unrelated to treatment outcomes for ECF inmates included IQ and prior drug use. The authors suggest that ECF inmates may be better treated with a targeted, neurocognitive-based treatment strategy to reduce violence among prison inmates. Treatments for ECF inmates should also include delayed reinforcement exercises, speech and language therapy, problem solving training, stress management, and social skills training. A series of assessments are recommended, such as assessments of inmates’ neuropsychological function and IQ, their executive cognitive functioning, their emotional regulation and perception, and their drug abuse history. The authors explain that impairments in higher order cognitive skills, which are executive cognitive functions (ECF) and emotional regulation, are believed to significantly effect violence and psychopathy in individuals. Participants were a voluntary sample of approximately 224 male inmates who were recruited for the study during their intake into the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program in the Roxbury (RCI) and the Western Correctional Institutions (WCI) and the Maryland Correctional Training Center (MCTC). Participants completed baseline testing of several complementary dimensions of ECF and the conditions that influence it. Data were also gathered on IQ, stress, general neuropsychology, prior drug use, and child and family background. Data analysis involved the use of correlation matrix and linear regression models. Tables, figures, references, appendixes

Date Published: January 1, 2006