Our lab is engaged in a number of current projects related to correctional and forensic psychology.

Bibliotherapy treatment in female offenders: Bibliotherapy is a cost-effective treatment that requires minimal contact with a mental health professional. Bibliotherapy involves reading self-help materials for therapeutic benefit. Offenders often have limited access to mental health treatment, so bibliotherapy might be a useful treatment alternative for those who are incarcerated. In fact, a previous study (Pardini et al., 2014) found cognitive bibliotherapy to reduce symptoms of depression in male offenders. We are investigating the use of bibliotherapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression in female offenders.

Mental health training in police departments and correctional institutions: We are engaged in a national study of law enforcement training academies, police departments, and correctional institutions regarding the types of mental health training offered to police officers and correctional officers. Police officers and correctional officers have frequent contact with individuals who have mental illness, but little is known about the amount and types of training offered to officers to work with this population.

Employment of ex-offenders: One of the most difficult obstacles for offenders when they are released from prison is gaining employment. Research shows that ex-offenders with steady employment have lower recidivism rates than those without steady employment. Incentives have been developed at the state and federal level to increase employment opportunities for those with significant barriers to employment, including ex-offenders. We are examining employer attitudes and practices regarding the hiring of ex-offenders, including the awareness of and use of governmental incentives.