Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Elisa Krackow

Committee Member

Amy Gentzler

Committee Member

Cheryl McNeil

Committee Member

Karen Weiss

Committee Member

Merideth Smith


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of the START NOW program + behavioral level system (BLS) in a self-contained therapeutic community (SCTC) on inmate misbehavior at a correctional facility in a southern state. The SCTC includes the START NOW manualized mental health treatment, recreation groups, process groups as needed, and additional positive reinforcement to target inmate prosocial behavior (i.e., level system to obtain privileges). Inmate data was evaluated at 3-months pre-START NOW intervention and 3-months post-START NOW intervention to determine if there were differences in the number of referrals to mental health services for misbehavior, write-ups in the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR), referrals to the restrictive housing unit, placement on precaution status, and instances of spontaneous use of force compared with a control group of inmates who were placed in restrictive housing during the same time frame. A series of ANCOVA and chi-square analyses was used to examine any potential differences in these two groups on variables at pre-intervention versus post-intervention. In contrast to previous studies (Cislo & Trestman, 2016; Kersten, Cislo, Lynch, Shea, & Trestman 2015; Shelton & Wakai, 2011), the current study showed largely nonsignificant results. Although the current study did not find that the START NOW plus behavioral level system group was significantly different from the control group on outcome variables, the intervention group did improve overall. Therefore, further research is necessary to determine the impact of this intervention on inmate disruptive, aggressive, and violent behavior.