My formal education consisted of a high school diploma and a few college courses. I always considered my high school graduation as a major achievement and because I didn’t like school, instead I focused on being self-taught. I became a successful tax preparer and made enough money in four months so that I didn’t have to work the rest of the year.
All of that came to a screeching halt when I met Dr. Leonard Dalton, a highly innovative educator and school superintendent. Together we established the National Traffic Safety Institute and in October 1975, I taught the first behavioral traffic safety class in Walnut Creek, California. It worked so well that we went on to other programs such as shoplifting and substance abuse. I sold my tax practice; I was hooked!
Two years later, I sold my interest in the National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI) but kept the rights to the criminal programs. I then moved to Austin, Texas and established the National Corrective Training Institute (NCTI). A few years later, I sold NCTI and then in 1985; established the current organization, American Community Corrections Institute (ACCI). This is when I really started to understand what I was trying to do.
Not satisfied with the status quo and common life skills curriculum, I moved to the next level; that of cognitive restructuring. I started to incorporate the all-important criminogenic needs of offenders. This science clearly demonstrated that you can reduce recidivism rates by 25 to 30%.(Normal is 8-10%.) However, nowhere in the research did it explain how to do it, only this would be the results if you did.
With this task or quest to find how to fulfill the criminogenic needs of offenders, I became very much in tune with the group cognitive life skills classes that I was teaching. Through intensive research and hundreds of hours teaching life skills classes, I started to discover some common threads between criminal thinking and criminogenic needs. I changed the workbooks to address those discoveries. Most of this intense research took place over a two year period in Kerrville, Texas as I personally conducted weekend life skills classes. The results were amazing as we started to achieve the 25-30% reduction in recidivism rates everywhere it was used.
Then in 2001, because meeting with offenders in groups violated the major needs regarding antisocial cognition, antisocial companions, and antisocial personalities, we established the self-directed home study approach. In this approach, the participants were required to complete the course at home with a coach of their choosing, usually a friend or relative. This also helped to fulfill the pro social need of family and other relationships.
Next, in my research, I came across a book called “Influencer – The power to change anything” by Kelly Patterson. This was an amazing fit and became a blueprint for everything I have written since. Among other things, it validated what I already knew; that well-written vicarious stories will disarm people’s objections to what you’re teaching them. My childhood experiences and story telling abilities now became a great asset.
I soon realized that what I was writing was heavily resonating with the participants because I had lived it before. I wasn’t writing it to become famous or make a lot of money and they could sense it; insincerity wears a thin robe! Like many people who experienced traumatic events in their lives, I just wanted to help people. The result was that just over 96% of those who completed gave positive evaluations, and recidivism rates fell, validating the content.
My desire has been, and will continue to be, to create a best-practice tool that goes beyond the status quo. Best-practice means going to the next level and incorporating new and validated systems that can significantly lower recidivism rates. Leading the nation in lowering recidivism rates equates to being the leading expert in the nation when it comes to writing and producing cognitive restructuring curriculum. It is now easy to see the major flaws that I committed years ago, that keep current programs from achieving success.
Although there is no such thing as perfection, I am delighted in the curriculum and delivery systems that have come together to help reduce crime and protect communities by focusing on the real reason for criminal behavior; that is criminal thinking. If I had to go through the gauntlet myself to achieve success in helping others, then so be it. The future looks very bright. We are currently engaged in converting our printed workbooks into state-of-the-art, e-learning courses.
I am semi-retired, but still highly engaged in curricula development. I am grateful for the many counselors and experts in their fields that, over the past 4 decades, have shared their expertise. My son, Trevor Lloyd, an organizational psychologist, is now president of ACCI. He is taking ACCI into a more automated and digital system to increase efficiency, and meet new challenges in helping courts, schools and the military. I would invite you to consider our curriculum when making decisions on which provider to use. We would love to help your clients, their families and your community.