The Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention that focuses on personal responsibility education, training, and counseling, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of reincarceration. CBT models have been shown to reduce recidivism by as much as 25 percent in rigorously designed demonstrations. The particular form of CBT being used at Rikers is called Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT was selected due to its open curriculum and general flexibility, which is required for the Rikers environment.
MDRC piloted the program from February-June 2012. In spring 2012, MDRC issued an RFP for a service provider and selected a team made up of The Osborne Association and Friends of Island Academy. The Osborne Association is the primary provider, and Friends of Island Academy subcontracts with The Osborne Association in order to run the program at Rikers. Beginning in the summer, Osborne and Friends staff, who were trained in MRT at the end of May, began to deliver the program to the detainees. In September 2012, the providers expanded MRT provision outside Rikers, enabling youth who leave Rikers prior to completing MRT to continue working through the program in their communities. During this pilot phase, the program is being administered to about half of all youth on Rikers.
In January 2013, the program will be expanded to serve all youth within the target population. The program will run for three years, from September 2012 to August 2015.
The Vera Institute of Justice is conducting an independent quasi-experimental evaluation of the project.