How MRT Became Widely Used Inmate Rehab Therapy


MRT, moral reconation therapy, started as a pilot program for inmates in Memphis’ Shelby County to one now used in 47 states and eight countries, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was developed by Memphis psychologists Dr. Greg Little and Dr. Kenneth Robinson and first used in 1985 as part of the Shelby County Correction Center’s drug abuse program. Robinson says it is now the most widely used inmate rehabilitation program in the world.

They borrowed from theories by psychologists including Carl Jung, Jean Piaget ,and Lawrence Kohlberg, looking for ways to make inmates stop and think about how they make decisions. They formed a company, Correctional Counseling Inc. Their Web site,, says MRT “seeks to move clients from hedonistic (pleasure vs. pain) reasoning levels to levels where concern for social rules and others becomes important.” Standard rates for repeat offenders in the U.S. exceed 65 percent. Little says MRT fares better nationally, cutting recidivism up to 60 percent in the short term with rates leveling off at about 20 percent after 10 years.

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