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Aggressive Behavioral Control Program



The Aggressive Behavioral Control (ABC) Program was established in the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The RPC is a maximum-security, accredited, forensic psychiatric hospital operated by Correctional Services Canada. It provides high-intensity, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment programs designed specifically for high-risk, high-need offenders, especially those who demonstrate low responsiveness to rehabilitative services. The ABC Program is a 6- to 8-month program designed for impulsively and/or chronically aggressive offenders with extensive histories of crimes of violence and/or significant institutional management problems. Prison gang inmates were included in the eligible target group for these reasons and also because they present a formidable security threat in prison.

An interdisciplinary team format was employed to deliver program services that were designed to follow the principles of effective correctional treatment and also to emphasize relapse prevention skills in individual and group therapy. Some clients also received employment and education programs, substance abuse treatment, sex-offender treatment, and occupational therapy. Referrals to the ABC Program came from other correctional institutions and were screened for admission to the program on the basis of the above eligibility criteria. Upon discharge from the program, offenders may be released directly into the community, returned to the referring prison, or sent to a different institution. A total of 28 gangs were represented in the treatment group; offenders were mostly Aboriginal street gang members, though there were other street gang members as well. A few of them belonged to motorcycle gangs. The program clients averaged about 25 years of age.

Treated gang and nongang groups were compared with matched untreated gang and nongang groups. Overall criminal recidivism was significantly reduced in the treated groups (with no differences between the treated gang and treated nongang groups). Among those who recidivated, the first violent conviction was less serious in the treated groups compared with the untreated comparison groups. The treated groups also had lower rates of major institutional infractions than did the comparison groups. Overall, the results supported the general conclusion that when designed according to the risk, need, and responsivity principles and delivered to gang members within a mental health facility, CBT can reduce the likelihood and seriousness of criminal recidivism in the community and the rate of major institutional conduct among confined offenders.

Risk Factors


Exposure to firearm violence


Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)

High alcohol/drug use

High drug dealing

Illegal gun ownership/carrying

Physical violence/aggression

Violent victimization


Delinquent siblings

Family history of problem behavior/criminal involvement

Family poverty/low family socioeconomic status

Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)

Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)


Availability of firearms

Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood

High-crime neighborhood


Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency

Association with gang-involved peers/relatives


National Gang Center: Effective program


Natalie H. Polvi, Ph.D.
Program Director, Aggressive Behavioral Control Program
Regional Psychiatric Centre
Post Office Box 9243
2520 Central Avenue
Saskatoon, SK S7K 3X5
Phone: (306) 975-5400, ext: 5216
Fax: (306) 975-6024
E-mail: [email protected]


Oliver, M. E., Lewis, K., Wong, S.C.P. (2013). Risk Reduction Treatment of High-Risk Psychopathic Offenders: The Relationship of Psychopathy and Treatment Change to Violent Recidivism. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4, 160-167.

Date Created: April 7, 2021