Max Klapow to present at 2021 CAIR Conference on Inequality and Social Justice

Senior PNP major, Max Klapow, will present his thesis April 24th at the 2021 CAIR Conference on Inequality and Social Justice.

Re-Imagining Corrections: Design and Development of a Novel Positive Psychology-Based Intervention Program for Incarcerated People

Criminal corrections in the United States are typically unsuccessful in helping incarcerated people gain the tools and skills necessary to not only survive, but flourish, upon exiting the correctional system. In fact, evidence indicates that the experience of incarceration directly impacts psychosocial functioning, making success after incarceration all the more difficult. Positive psychology aims to identify constructs and interventions that promote flourishing. Positive corrections, the application of positive psychology concepts to the study of criminal rehabilitation, offers an alternative strengths-based approach for improving incarcerated people's short and long-term outcomes after incarceration. Drawing on the philosophical, criminological, and psychological literature, this thesis aims to categorize various approaches to positive intervention programs in prison settings and design a novel intervention program based on identified best practices. First, I review the existing literature in corrections, identifying positive psychology-based correctional programs and categorize them into 3 types: framework-based programs, multi-modal programs, and psychoeducational programs. Then, I identify best practices and limitations of each approach to positive corrections. Next, I design and describe a novel positive intervention program ("Thrive-Inside") based on these best practices, optimizing both program efficacy and scalability. Finally, I describe the expected outcomes of the Thrive-Inside program as well as it will be implemented and evaluated in a pilot. By utilizing a positive psychology lens for understanding and alleviating stressors of inequality, poverty, and the traumatization associated with incarceration, this project proposes a sustainable, scalable intervention program for reducing criminal behavior and empowering incarcerated people to thrive. 

"My time in the department has been one filled with exploration. I chose WashU primarily because of the PNP department, which was created to equip students with the tools and skills necessary to ask better question and solve complex problems. I think this Honors project is one that exemplifies bringing together disciplines to make a meaningful impact, grounding academia and research in real-world problems. This project was an extension of my time working as a teaching assistant in the Prison Education Project, and I owe all of my thanks to the students in that program. They (and my professors and mentors in the Civic Scholars program) taught me that we do this research not just for knowledge’s sake, but to help people. I'm excited to continue this work next year at the University of Oxford as a Master's student in Social Policy and Intervention, and I hope this project will help shift how we think about people experiencing incarceration."

~ Max Klapow, PNP Class of 2021