Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) Program
As budgets limit jail space, jail populations need to be reduced. Research shows a reduced rate of recidivism among individuals who successfully complete the MRT program. In an effort to address jail overcrowding, seven employees from the Wayne County Municipal Court are certified to facilitate MRT groups.
MRT is a unique cognitive behavioral treatment approach designed for the criminal offender populations. The program is designed to alter how offenders think and how they make decisions about right and wrong. There are 16 steps in the program and the offenders attend 24 to 36 sessions to complete MRT.
For the individuals who dedicate themselves for the approximate four months it takes to complete the program, MRT is extremely beneficial. Group members often say they are pleasantly surprised by how much the first thirty-eight pages of the book, HOW TO ESCAPE YOUR PRISON, relates to their lives. After reading these pages, offenders are eager to begin the program. In fact, although the participants are not allowed to work ahead in their book, the majority say they often read ahead or re-read certain chapters to gain a better understanding of the changes they desire to make in their lives. For those who complete the program, they understand that if they make better choices and decisions, their lives will be fuller and their involvement in the “court system” will no longer exist.
MRT, like any other program of its type, is not 100% successful. There are some who are not eligible and some who fail to apply themselves. However, the ones who choose to embrace the principals taught, have an increased chance of eliminating future contact with the legal system.
The MRT program at the Wayne County Municipal Court began in November of 2006. The objective of the program is to reduce the rate of recidivism and to reduce jail overcrowding. The majority of participants are repeat offenders. Their crimes include domestic violence, assault, theft, as well as drug and alcohol related offenses. Statistical data is collected to measure the impact the MRT program makes on the recidivism rate of participants who complete the program.
The recidivism rate is defined by new convictions for a fourth degree misdemeanor or higher, and possession of marijuana. Also incorporated are traffic convictions of no operator license, driving under suspension, operating a vehicle under the influence, and hit/skip.
As of December 31, 2011, one hundred and forty-three (143) men completed the MRT program. The statistics revealed that 65% of those men have not re-offended, as of this report date. Additionally, eighty-five (85) men started the program but did not finish due to either alcohol/drug abuse and/or poor attendance. Therefore, for the two hundred and twenty-eight (228) men who participated in the MRT program since it's inception, at the time of this report, there is a 62% completion rate.
Fifty-one (51) women completed MRT at the time of this report. Of this population, seventeen (17) women have a new conviction which equates to an 66% success rate. Forty-six (46) women started the program but did not finish.
Six groups are currently being facilitated in three locations - Wayne County Municipal Court, Orrville Municipal Court and the Wayne County Jail.