Benefits of Crisis Intervention Training

NYU BetaGov, a project directed by Angela Hawken, teaches practitioners across diverse sectors to run rapid-cycle research trials and pilots that test internal practices and procedures in order to improve outcomes and increase the pace of innovation.

With BetaGov's assistance, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene recently conducted a pilot program in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which teaches and assesses corrections staff's response to situations involving incarcerated individuals with mental health disorders. 

More than half of prison residents have a diagnosed mental health disorder. Some correctional institutions have established training programs to prepare staff for interactions with persons diagnosed with mental health conditions. Efforts are focused on resolving crisis and reducing disruptive behaviors. Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is an intensive four day program to teach corrections officers skills and methods for interacting with this population.

Pilot Design: In a small feasibility pilot, SCI Greene randomly assigned two pods in a Residential Treatment Unit (RTU), housing persons with mental health diagnoses. All staff in the intervention condition pod were CIT trained, whereas staff in the control condition pod were not. All other procedures remained identical. 

Key Finding: A mental health unit structured with only CIT-trained staff experienced fewer informal (lower-level) misconducts than a similar unit without CIT-trained staff. 

Pilot Snapshot

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