Study: Empathy training for parole officers leads to 13% drop in offenders returning to jail


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A new study out of UC Berkeley suggests that non-judgmental empathy training helps probation and parole officers feel more emotionally connected to their clients, which helps inmates not become repeat offenders.

There was a 13% decrease in recidivism among the clients of parole and probation officers who participated in an empathy training experiment created by UC Berkley.

Assistant Professor of Psychology at Berkeley and study author, Jason Okonofua, told NewsNation the training “is less so of a lecture and more so of an interactive conversation.”

“For example, we ask people about instances in which they have truly or fully sought to understand another person’s perspective and that can be done without even mentioning the word empathy. And typically people can remember such a time and then we can go from there,” explained Okonofua.

When asked if the study could be applied to other cities, Okonofua said yes, adding that the research was conducted in a major city with a diverse police department.

“Due to the experimental design, we can expect that this has a very high likelihood of being effective in a variety of settings,” stated Okonofua.

The study authors are in talks to apply the study to other parole departments as well as other sectors of law enforcement.

“Things like recidivism are historically difficult to reduce even by 1%, and 1% would be a sizeable reduction in recidivism,” said Okonofua.

According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of all prisoners were rearrested within three years.

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