Emotional Intelligence in Prison
by, 07-07-2012 at 02:56 PM (151 Views)
According to theorist Daniel Goleman emotional intelligence is a combination of factors. It is the ability to know what you are feeling and managing those feeling while making good decisions. For example, being emotionally intelligent means “calming yourself when you're anxious and handling your anger appropriately. It's maintaining hope in the face of setbacks, having empathy and being able to get along with people” (Brown, 1996, para. 4). Several studies have shown by teaching prisoners these abilities and the skill to stop and think before they react resulted in fewer conflicts which are important for the safety of other prisoners, prison staff, and the public once released (Vacca, 2004, p. 297). With the rapid increase in offender populations and high rates of recidivism should an emotional intelligence training program be implemented to help reduce violence in prison and reduce reentry rates?
In Nevada, approximately 24% of prisoners released reoffend within 36-months of their release date (Livingston, 2009, p. 20). The key to any prisoner’s success after release is determined by the offender’s ability to integrate back into the community and by avoiding further convictions after release. There have been several studies conducted on the effectiveness of educational programs and how they contribute to reducing recidivism rates. These studies have shown that prisoners who attend educational programs during their sentencing are less likely to reoffend after being released. Additionally, having the right kind of educational programs available will reduce prison violence, create a positive prison environment and reduce recidivism. Emotional intelligence training is important to the overall prison atmosphere because it will develop the prisoner’s self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills which in turn will reduce recidivism (Livingston, 2009, p. 21).
As Goleman points out in his book Social Intelligence (2006) the majority of prisoners seldom get to learn how to correct the behaviors and conditions that keep them repeating the cycle of release, relapse, and prison again (p. 293). This same majority suffer from a short circuit in their social brain which is essential in expressing empathy and for regulating emotional impulses. In the Nevada prison system approximately 25% of prisoners are under the age of twenty-five which in perfect for transforming this short circuit into a more law-abiding pattern. Evaluations of current prison rehabilitation programs have found that by targeting the younger and first time offenders is more successful in preventing future criminal activity after released and reducing recidivism (Goleman, 2006, p. 293). All educational programs in the prison system have one goal in common they all want to help offenders learn to be better people, not better criminals. Emotional intelligence training is the first step in this transformation (Goleman, 2006, p. 297).
Brown, S. A. (1996, May 13). Talent for living. Success, says Daniel Goleman, requires skill in handling emotions, not just being smart. People, 45 (19). Retrieved from Talent for Living : People.com
Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence: The new science of human relationships. New York, NY: Bantam Book.
Livingston, A. (2009). Nevada Department of Corrections fiscal year 2009 statistical abstract. Retrieved from http://www.doc.nv.gov/stats/annual/fy2009.pdf
Vacca, J. (2004). Educated prisoners are less likely to return to prison. Journal of Correctional Education, 55(4), 297-305. Retrieved from Educated Prisoners Are Less Likely to Return to Prison