A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of American (PNAS) discovered something that most of us already know deep down, being empathetic can help someone become a better person.
Researchers conducted a study asking parole officers (PPOs) to perform a 30-minute online exercise designed to enhance their empathy for adults on probation or parole (APPs). The exercise also was designed to affirm the PPOs sense of purpose.
This makes sense because being a PPO has to be a stressful job. Seeing APPs day in and day out probably makes it difficult to relate to them as individuals. The same can happen in any job whether it's customer service or working in healthcare. We all need to be reminded to show a bit more empathy for the people we encounter every day.
The 30-minute exercise asked PPOs to read an article affirming their critical role in making sure APP's met the conditions of their sentences. It also included a narrative from a PPO in their department that affirms the benefits of their job.
"For me, it's when I'm walking down the street with my headphones on and somebody is running me down, 'Miss ___, Miss ___! You remember me? I'm doing this, I'm doing this with my life… I'm really fulfilled when it comes to things like that… so when I run across those guys and they're doing well I'm like, 'awesome!' …those are some of the more fulfilling parts of the job for me."
The exercise concluded with an article reminding PPOs that creating mutually respectful relationships with APPs allows them to be more effective at meeting their needs.
The study was conducted on 216 PPOs overseeing more than 20,000 APPs.
The results of the study are impressive. After ten months, those that took the "empathic supervision intervention," saw a 13% reduction in their APP's recidivism rates. A 2011 Pew Research study found that the average national recidivism rate for released prisoners is 43%.
So, dropping the rate by 13% over 20,000 APPs, means the intervention kept approximately 2,600 people out of prison.
If this type of intervention was implemented nationwide, it could lead to a large-scale reduction in recidivism rates that would have a massive impact on countless lives. Repeat offenders are extremely costly for the APPs, their families, the state budget, and the community-at-large.
The new study suggests that empathy training for parole and probation officers helps deter their clients from reoff… https://t.co/DMEJa4PHG4— Prison_Health (@Prison_Health) 1617057013.0
The results of the study prove its initial hypothesis about the PPO and APP relationship. "If the relationship lacks appropriate care and trust, violations and recidivism (return to jail or prison) may be more likely to occur," the study postulates.
The study points to a lesson that we should all remember, regardless of what we do for a living.
Leading with the heart and showing sympathy for others, regardless of what they've done in the past, can make a huge difference. Sometimes all people want in this world is to be seen, heard, and understood. As this story shows, a little bit of empathy can have an incredible impact on the entire community.
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