Behavior Modification Program

The Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center's Behavior Management Program is based on empirically demonstrated behavior modification techniques to facilitate positive behavioral change.

The cognitive-behavioral framework is a model for describing, understanding, and changing behavior. It operates on the fundamental assumption that thinking and attitudes influence our behavior, and therefore we can change behavior by changing thought patterns and attitudes. Simply put, the cognitive model states that prior to all human behaviors, a person is presented with an antecedent situation. Based on that situation, a person has certain self-talks (thoughts) that give rise to feelings and then to the behavior that they choose to exhibit. This behavior then results in consequences, which then introduces a new antecedent situation, and the cycle repeats itself ad infinitum. For the purposes of behavior modification, then, we seek to change individual thinking patterns and therefore behaviors by manipulating the antecedents to their thoughts and the consequences that result.

Research indicates that the highest risk factor for re-offending is criminogenic thinking and attitudes. Therefore, we use the cognitive model because its goal is to change such thinking. It uses techniques to monitor thought patterns, recognize the connections between thinking and behavior, and replace distorted thinking with rational thinking in order to foster more appropriate behavior. We challenge our residents to pay attention to the thought patterns they have and the behaviors and consequences that result from them. This further challenges residents to reduce the “automatic” thinking they have to given situations and recognize the thoughts that they have that put them at risk to doing something hurtful or irresponsible.

There are several different methods we utilize to attempt to change resident behavior. Timeouts are used to help residents think about inappropriate behavior they have engaged in and reduce the likelihood that they will exhibit that same behavior in the future. Points are tied to privileges and used in tandem with timeouts to reinforce positive behavior and extinguish negative behavior. Goals and program tools are used to help residents focus on a particular inappropriate behavior, either over a period of time or a single instance, and help the resident see more positive alternatives. Even with these various program tools, we would be hard-pressed to change behavior without effective praise and the positive reinforcement we offer to the residents through coupons. 

Emerging changes in national and state standards on the isolation and confinement of youth in their rooms in juvenile detention are in response to research documentation of the detrimental and counter-productive effects of isolation. Evolving standards support that isolating or confining a youth to their room should be used only to protect the youth from harming themselves or others and if used, should be brief and supervised. The State of California passed legislation in 2013 banning isolation of youth as a punishment and limited isolation to circumstances in which juveniles pose an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others or the security of the facility (and only after all less-restrictive options have been exhausted); further stating that as soon as the safety risk was addressed the youth would be released. A national survey of detained youth (Hayes, 2004) revealed that 50% of the suicides in juvenile detention involved youth confined to their room at the time of death.

Group Programming

The Juvenile Detention Center has implemented group programming that is provided to give residents the opportunity to understand and gain skills that are needed to be productive while in detention as well as in the community. Our programs seek to enable them to deal efficiently with demands and challenges of everyday life not only as an adolescent but in the future. Residents participate in the daily groups and give input related to each topic. This creates a chance for learning and gives residents an opportunity to share their perspective with others appropriately. Staff conducting group programming are also encouraged to actively partake in the group to help stimulate discussion between residents and reassure that residents input is valued.

Group Programming that is currently offered at the detention center are:

  • Rational Behavior Training (RBT) 
  • Social Skills
  • Anger Management
  • Risk Management
  • Restorative Justice
  • Moral Decision Making
  • Addiction

Outside Agency Programming

Alongside our daily group programming provided by detention staff the facility also has outside agencies that provide programming for the residents. These agencies include but are not limited to: