Empathy training for parole officers reduces recidivism by 13%

Heavy caseloads, job stress and biases can strain relations between parole and probation officers and their clients, upping offenders’ likelihood of landing back behind bars.

On a more hopeful note, a new UC Berkeley study suggests that nonjudgmental empathy training helps court-appointed supervision officers feel more emotionally connected to their clients and, arguably, better able to deter them from criminal backsliding.

The findings, published today, March 29, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show, on average, a 13% decrease in recidivism among the clients of parole and probation officers who participated in the UC Berkeley empathy training experiment.



    1. Hi Lawrence,

      I would love to hear more about your program in Honduras. We’ve had some success providing yoga for staff, and it feels like an important outreach. The more staff understands the potential benefits I feel like they are more supportive of programs. It also helps create a shared experience that further humanizes the people in their custody. And prison staff are severely impacted by stress. It’s been shown to shorten their lifespan by decades. One last note, we are working on a Spanish-language version of the training which should be ready mid-year.