EMCF Attributes Better Inmate Behavior to New Program

Lauderdale Co. What does it take to keep an inmate from behaving badly? Operators at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility say they have the answer. It comes in the form of new program called Moral Reconation Therapy. Management and Training Corporation put the program in place one year ago, and officials say they're already seeing the impacts.

"That actually meets the inmate where they are in the particular moment, where they can go back and research in their mind, the things that they have committed," EMCF Director of Mental Health Dr. Dennis Huggins explains.

MRT is an intense counseling program that combines education, counseling, exercises and lessons. A psychologist at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility says the program places major importance on accountability. Counselors will ask the inmates to draw pictures to better understand.

"Words tend to allow a person to blame someone else," EMCF Psychologist Marshall Poe says. "With a picture that's imprinted in their minds, they can now see how they've affected other people rather than blaming other people."

The decrease in rule violations is something they say is spreading from inmate to inmate and from prison to prison. Management and Training has seen similar results at the other three correctional facilities in Mississippi.

"The cell next to you, the guy's always getting in trouble," Deputy Warden of Programs Ray Rice says. "All of a sudden, he's not getting in trouble anymore. You're trying to figure out what is he doing differently than he was doing before."

Researchers say the program has been shown to keep criminals on the right track after leaving their facilities, as well. A study found that offenders who participated in MRT were less likely to end up back behind bars.