Design, Sites, and Data Sources
The Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) is a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention that focuses on personal responsibility education, training, and counseling, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of reincarceration. Cognitive behavioral therapy 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, both of which are required for the Rikers environment.
MDRC pilot tested the program from February to June 2012. In spring 2012, MDRC issued a request for proposals 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. Osborne and Friends staff members were trained in MRT at the end of May and began to deliver the program to the detainees in the summer of that year. In September 2012, the providers expanded MRT provision outside Rikers, enabling young people who leave Rikers before completing MRT to continue working through the program in their communities. During this pilot phase, the program was administered to about half of all adolescents on Rikers.
In January 2013, the program expanded to serve all young people 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.