Men mill around a parole office in Des Moines waiting for class to start. It’s a second-chance venue, if offenders there listen and learn, says the Des Moines Register. They don’t have the notoriety of the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice, who is getting a second chance to play in the NFL after he was caught on video slugging his wife. A University of Iowa psychology professor has designed a less confrontational treatment method that is working for Iowa men in community corrections programs, cutting the rate of recidivism in early research results from a 22.9 percent rate of violent re-offenses one year later with the old treatment methods to 13.4 percent with the new.
Prof. Erika Lawrence says her program is now being sought in other states. For 25 years, “batterers education” programs have mandated that men convicted of domestic violence attend a series of classes. Often, the men were met with confrontation. They’d be told to hit the bricks if they didn’t come clean, admit their male controlling behaviors and work to change the thoughts that led to anger and violence. Lawrence’s treatment, first launched with the Iowa Department of Corrections as a pilot program called Achieving Change Through Value Based Behavior, emphasizes recognition of those feelings and then sitting with them, suffering through them, and not acting on them because those actions go against your values.