Professor David DeMatteo received $128,000 in federal grant money to study the impact of crisis intervention training in correctional facilities in three Pennsylvania counties.
The director of the JD-PhD in Law and Clinical Psychology program, DeMatteo will lead the one-year study with doctoral student Alisha Desai.
The funding, conferred by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections using federal grant money, will cover the cost of training correctional officers who work with inmates who have mental health diagnoses or co-occurring substance abuse disorders, both inside corrections facilities and after parole.
The study will assess the impact of the training officers receive through surveys and analysis of incident reports and parole violations.
The research is important, DeMatteo said, given the large number of individuals who have mental illness in the criminal justice system.
“Crisis intervention training in other contexts has been shown to be a useful tool with police and first responders,” DeMatteo said. “It hasn’t been studied as much among correctional officers who are encountering people on the front lines who have mental illness.”
The impact of the training on police and first responders has been well established, DeMatteo said.
“The work with police has been dramatic,” he added. “Philadelphia stands at the forefront nationally in training police officers in crisis intervention. The crisis intervention training has been more nuanced for veterans who might have triggers. It hasn’t been studied in correctional facilities yet.”
A widely published scholar who serves on the American Board of Forensic Psychology Board of Directors, DeMatteo’s expertise includes offender diversion and drug-involved criminal offenders. His book, “Problem-solving Courts and the Criminal Justice System,” which he co-edited with ’18 Kline alumna Alice Thornewill and PhD candidate Shelby Arnold, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.