Strengthening the Couple and Family Relationships of Fathers Behind Bars: The Promise and Perils of Corrections-Based Programming. Addressing prospective participants distrust of corrections-based programming lengthened the amount of time it took to establish a class or group


Men had numerous concerns about participation. Grantees reported that they had to emphasize the confidential nature of the programming during recruitment and promote the short- and long-term benefits of participation.

For one program, trust and willingness to participate were only established after staff made sure prospective participants understood that the instructor and other program staff were outside of the prison hierarchy. Another grantee underscored the importance of helping participants feel that program participation was a step toward a successful return to their communities and families and that they were respected by the program staff.

Lessons Learned for Recruitment Challenges
Its all about trust and credibility:
  • Make sure participants understand that all of the information they provide during the intake process is confidential and will not be shared with the facility or the department of corrections.
  • Consider ways for the program to separate itself from the prison hierarchy so that prospective participants are not initially turned off by the program being lqpart of the system.
  • Provide additional opportunities for participation if participants appear overwhelmed or if recruitment is done during intake.
  • Use program graduates to recruit potential participants.
  • Use other popular programs or classes as recruitment opportunities to stimulate interest in programming.

Encouragement doesnt hurt:

  • Inquire about the possibility of having the host facility or probation and parole honor completion of the program with institutional credits, community service hours, or other similar motivators.
  • Maintain a strengths-based approach to foster interest and show respect toward the participants.
  • Be willing to reassess recruitment and incentive strategies to meet the populations needs.

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