Reshaping Justice: The Power of Behavioral Management Systems

Posted by The Carey Group on
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Reshaping Justice: The Power of Behavioral Management Systems</span>

It's challenging to shift one's mindset and break old habits. Many of us tend to stick to familiar behaviors and thoughts because they are comfortable and we know how to navigate the consequences, whether they are positive or negative. Acknowledging that certain behaviors consistently lead to negative outcomes is the first step toward change. However, the process of change takes time, and for optimal results, it's crucial to have the support and encouragement of others. 

Justice professionals, especially those working with persons under judicial supervision, are uniquely positioned to provide support and encouragement that will, over time, effect lasting, positive change. The interactions between justice professionals and those receiving supportive services, from the first encounter to the last, profoundly impact outcomes.  

First Impressions: The Role of Justice Professionals 

Clarifying roles during the initial appointment and building a professional and respectful alliance/rapport will help to define interactions moving forward. Additionally, establishing positive and purposeful expectations, rather than focusing solely on stipulations and conditions, helps people see that you want them to succeed. 

The Assessment 

Success is dependent on a variety of factors. Therefore, assessing one’s risks and needs early on is essential. Conducting evidence-based assessment enables justice professionals to identify risk level, strengths, responsivity factors, and the criminogenic need that most influence one’s behavior. Armed with these insights, justice professionals can engage in collaborative discussions with individuals receiving supportive services, working together to identify SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) objectives.

Second Chances & Changing Habits 

The next consideration, which should also be discussed together, is what will happen if a person under supervision fails to meet a goal completely or in the necessary timeframe or gets in trouble again. Having checks and balances and defined intervention plans for redirecting negative behavior are vital in helping someone succeed. As the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Second chances are core to improving justice outcomes.  

Statistically, 40 to 60 percent of people with substance use disorder will experience a relapse. Recognizing that a majority of people with justice involvement have a substance use disorder, relapse in all its forms is something justice professionals will regularly witness throughout their careers. 

Partnerships with substance use and mental health treatment providers, as well as with recovery community organizations and other contributors to a client’s care team, are essential, especially during times of crisis when intervention is needed most. Whether connecting someone with a sponsor, a group, counseling, or treatment (inpatient or outpatient), doing so swiftly and proactively makes a huge difference.  

While seasoned justice professionals may be able to identify potential risks of relapse or recidivism without depending on data, new and intermediate professionals may not always immediately and independently recognize risk factors. Additionally, to avoid bias and ensure equitable supervision services, the utilization of evidence-based practices, tools, and resources is recommended.  

Fortunately, as technology has evolved over the years, web-based behavior management systems have been developed to help justice professionals promote prosocial behavior, identify risks/needs, understand the frequency of behaviors and responses, and more appropriately and accurately intervene when someone is struggling.  

As Easy as 1, 2, 3…. 

When using a behavior management system, justice professionals at all organizational levels can easily access case information, track and report real-time data, create custom reports, view and assign caseloads, and more efficiently manage time and practices. Additionally, the utilization of a behavior management system: 

  • Promotes prosocial behavior 
  • Prevents noncompliant behavior 
  • Determines consistent and appropriate responses to noncompliant behavior 
  • Increases transparency and clarity for staff and clients 
  • Reinforces data-informed and evidence-based practices 
  • Allows agencies to customize and manage policy decisions 

Behavior management systems are beneficial to the people under supervision. For instance, when people can frequently check-in online and see their progress and levels/areas of risk, they’re better able to proactively redirect their behaviors to align with their outcome goals. 

4:1 Behavior Management System (BMS)®  

The Carey Group’s 4:1 Behavior Management System (BMS)® offers all of these features as well as allows for customization, including:  

  • Ability to develop their own incentive and response matrix 
  • Identify specific behaviors to track and recognize or respond to consistently 
  • Incorporating agency name and logo into the software banner - keeping with communication consistency 
  • Selecting job titles and hierarchies of positions within the organization 
  • Decision-making authority of each relative to behavior management 
  • Auto-generating emails from staff to supervisors, court personnel, and others 

Aligning with research, the 4:1 Behavior Management System (BMS)® strives to achieve a minimum 4:1 ratio of prosocial to noncompliance behaviors and responses. The 4:1 Behavior Management SystemBMS® can also interface with existing case management systems, reducing duplication of data entry and allowing for easy data sharing and reporting. 

When prosocial behaviors outweigh noncompliance behaviors, positive outcomes are much more likely for people with justice involvement across all levels of risk.  


Related Reading 

For People Under Probation, Conditions Meant to Support Behavior Change Can Burden More Than Benefit 

The Desktop Guide to Good Juvenile Probation Practice 


Related Resources from Carey Group 

10 Tips for Effective Interactions with Probation Clients 

4:1 Behavior Management System (BMS)® 

Video Demos 


Strengthen your organization and improve your leadership skills and ability to implement and maintain healthy, productive organizational strategies: contact a Carey Group consultant who can connect you with effective, research-based policies, practices, and leadership tools. 

Decades of experience demonstrate that aligning justice systems around evidence-based policies and practices offers the most significant promise of success. Carey Group offers services and products for justice system professionals, from evidence-based consulting to interactive workbooks that help improve the mental health and lives of people with involvement in the justice system.  

Carey Group’s evidence-based training and consulting services address the needs of the justice system and behavioral health professionals. Training is an essential tool for keeping staff, supervisors, leadership, and stakeholders up to date with emerging knowledge and expectations for improved outcomes. Carey Group offers in-person, online, and self-directed courses on evidence-based practices, motivational interviewing, core professional competencies, case planning and management, continuous quality improvement, coaching, and the use of behavior-change tools and supervisor resources.