5,000 2,500

Topic Description



Background of the Study

Prison is an institution where persons who violate the laws of a society are incarcerated for the offences committed when found guilty in the court of law or as they wait to go to court to determine their guilt. The Prisons are established to serve as corrective as well as reformatory institutions.  In Nigeria, the prison is charged with taking custody of those legally detained, identifying causes of their behaviour and retraining them to become useful citizens in the society (Orakwe, 2004). Hence, the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) was founded as an institution that corrects social deviants, punishes and reforms criminals. The NPS operates under the prison Act, number 9 of 1972 and serves to complement the processes of legal adjudicate and law enforcement (FGN, 1990: 3-5).

There are different categories of prisons and prison related institutions in Nigeria. They include, the convict prisons, satellite prison camps, farm centres, cottage industries, borstal institutions and open prison camps (NPS, 2014). These prisons serve different purposes for the different categories of offenders:  the convict prisons consist of medium and maximum security prisons and they are for the remand of both convicted and awaiting trial inmates. According to Orakwe (2004), the maximum security prisons take in all classes of prisoners including condemned convicts, lifers and long term prisoners while the medium security prison takes into custody both remand inmates and convicts on short term. The satellite prisons serve as intermediate prisons camps set up in areas where courts are far from the main prisons. They are usually for the awaiting trial persons (ATPs) whose cases are being tried in court very close to the satellite camps but far from the main prisons. When convicted, they are moved to appropriate convict prisons to service their terms. The farm centres are agricultural prison camps set up to train inmates in agro-based vocations so that on release they must have acquired agro-based skills to start up life anew. Apart from the farm centres that are largely mechanized farms located in the food producing areas in Nigeria, some state prisons establish subsidiary farms and market gardens. The subsidiary farms are made up of vegetable-producing market gardens, poultry and piggery farms. In all, the establishment of the farm centres and subsidiary farms are endeavours to train inmates in vocational skills so they can be functional when they leave the prison on release. The efforts are also expected to yield revenue to the state. Finally, the borstal institutions, are for the remand and treatment of juvenile offenders and there are only three of such in Nigeria.

Whatever the category, the role of the prisons is to rehabilitate offenders so they can reintegrate into a set standard of behaviour or principles of conduct of the society on release. Rehabilitation is the act of rebuilding something to its former and original state. It is concerned with the inner worth and the dignity of an individual. More so, rehabilitation is committed to the restoration of the inmate to a life that is meaningful and allows the individual to meet with the obligations of the society in which they live. According to Ahire (2004) rehabilitation refers to post release efforts made carefully to make it easier for offenders to resettle in the society. However, Sinclair and Dickson (1998) defined rehabilitation as a process aiming to restore personal autonomy in those aspects of daily living considered most relevant by inmates. The definitions suggest that the individual had deviated from normalcy. When somebody falls short of expected behaviour, the person needs to be restored to a condition or frame of mind to be able to act normally. To rehabilitate, and as stated in the prisoners’ rights and responsibilities information booklet, the inmate on admittance, will determine a suitable area for training as a way of rehabilitation (NPS nd). The process of rehabilitation therefore, is indispensable for the correction of event disposing factor to criminal behaviours. Thus in this study rehabilitation means a process of meeting with the inmates’ criminogenic needs so that they do not show sign or tendency to re-offend in future.

Recidivism is a prisoner’s repetition of a criminal behaviour or act after being sanctioned. It may be for same or new offense. For Schmallenger and Smykla (2005), recidivism means the re-arrest, reconviction, or re-incarceration of former inmates. Tenibiaje (2013) describes it as falling back or relapse into prior criminal habits especially after punishment. The rate of recidivism endangers the social and economic condition of the society as well as the life and property of the citizenry. If recidivism is not checked the society in which recidivists live may become the target of their criminal acts. Tenibiaje (2013) refers a recidivist as a person who repeatedly commits crime or a person who repeats an unwanted behaviour even after experiencing its negative consequences. In this study, a recidivist is an inmate who after serving a jail term for a committed offence is rearrested for a similar or another offence.

There are certain factors that may contribute to recidivism. To Alberts (2000) reasons why inmates get in and go back (recidivism) could be an individual’s character and life experiences. According to Gendreau, Goggin and Little (1996), the factors which cause recidivism are called dynamic factors. The dynamic factors reflect internal states and temporary circumstances of individual such as attitudes and cognition. Gendreau, Goggin and Little emphasized that the strongest predictors of recidivism were dynamic risk factors of attitudes and cognition.

Attitudes and cognition might determine the extent one can cope or tolerate frustrations. According to Knaus (1998), when individuals’ wants, desires, and goals get thwarted, they normally feel frustration, which reflects an attitude about the unwanted condition. Frustration does not get provoked by circumstances but results mainly from mental processes: one’s ideas about people, events, concepts, and feelings. Life after imprisonment might even cause frustrations which may lead to aggression, regression, complacency, or compulsive behaviours. It can also stimulate positive change depending upon how inmates interpret the feelings of frustrations. In spite of this, it is believed that individuals from birth have the basic need to think and feel well about themselves. They have the ability as they grow to seek to understand who they are and also make judgments about whether their behaviour is good or bad. Self judgements are considered to be the basis for self-esteem.

Rosenberg (1965) defines self-esteem as favourable or unfavourable attitude towards the self. According to Gerrig and Zimbardo (2005:459), “self-esteem is a generalized evaluation of the self and can strongly influence thoughts, moods and behaviour”.  In the same perspective, Ferkany (2008) defines self-esteem as how individuals feel about their self, good or bad and as manifested in a variety of ways as positive or negative value. More so, Gleitman, Reisberg and Gross (2007), define self-esteem as the relative balance of positive and negative judgments about oneself. Self-esteem sums up the positive and negative forms of feeling about oneself.

Self-esteem impacts significantly on one’s life. This is why Gleitman, Reisberg and Gross (2007) posit that boosting self-esteem could heal a range of individual and social problems from poor grades, depression, and bullying to criminality.  Likewise Reasoner (1994), reports that self-esteem is a critical factor as both a source of crime prevention and an essential element of rehabilitation and behavioural change. It is an important cognitive variable that influences and sometimes even determines success in one’s life. That is to say, with healthy self-esteem, one might being capable of meeting life challenges.

There is evidence that the human needs associated with self-esteem are so strong that when personal needs for self-worth and value are not met, individuals will engage in drug or alcohol abuse, or crime and violence to satisfy these needs (Reasoner 1994). For example people may join gangs because they want to belong and to be “somebody” rather than be a “nobody”. Thus there seem to be significant links among\ self-esteem, criminal behaviours and other psychological problems. Adler (1956) theorized that self-esteem needs are at the root of many, if not most, psychological problems. Confirming Adler’s assertion, Dogar, Akhwanzada, Bajwa, Haider and Asmat 2010; Mason, 2001 and Tzeng and Yi, 2002, stated that delinquent behaviours were found to be associated with low self-esteem. Implicitly, to reduce delinquent behaviour is to enhance self-esteem and Kelley (1998) found evidence of a link between increased self-esteem and a reduction of delinquent behaviour in his study. He posits that as programmes were implemented to raise the level of self-esteem, the incidence of delinquent behaviour was reduced.

Therefore, a key element in intervention programmes for individuals showing criminal behaviours is to enhance their self-esteem. In order to improve one’s self-esteem, Frank (2014) posited that the negative self-talk must be identified and eliminated. Individuals need to recognize their strength and self worth. With this in place, they can tolerate frustrations and challenges and become readily responsive for positive behavioural changes. Besides, Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, and Vohs, (2003); Harter, (1990) opined that throughout one’s life span, self-esteem and self-perceived competencies are considered essential determinants of well-being and functioning.

Generally, high self-esteem has positive behavioural benefits including the reduction in the tendency to criminal behaviour. Ferkany (2008) and Frank (2014) listed the benefits to include, independence, responsibility taking and ability to tolerate frustrations, resistance to pressure, willingness to attempt new tasks and challenges, ability to handle positive and negative emotions and the willingness to offer assistance to others. The benefit also includes goal commitment, genuineness, forgiving, internal values, positivity and self improvement. Individuals with a high self-esteem already know their true value. Rogerian theory according to Pervin, Cervone, and Oliver (2005) suggested that people who have a consistent self-view across situations are psychologically healthier than people whose self-view is variable across situations. A person with high self-esteem would likely be in better position to cope with peculiar problems of life especially that which accompanies life outside the prison walls than one whose self-esteem is low even when both had acquired a skill while in prison. High self-esteem inmates may be more willing and determined to learn skills necessary for survival after release. Unfortunately researchers such as Chullone, Jones and Cummins (2000) indicated that prisoners have lower levels of self-esteem.

The consequences of low self-esteem have been linked to low levels of achievement, depression, low success in work, poor life coping strategies, signs of despondence in challenging situations and other maladjusted behaviours. Confirming these, Osayi, (2013) stated that discharged prisoners find it difficult to reintegrate into the society because of some factors which seem to inhibit the efforts. The factors could be social and cultural. According to Ugwoke (2010) these social or cultural factors include public attitude towards the released inmates. Ugwoke maintained that even after discharge from the prison, inmates are branded and treated as ex-convicts. Thus stigmatization is the greatest obstacle to a discharged prisoner’s re-integration. This leads to increase in recidivism among inmates in Nigeria prisons especially in southeastern and southwestern states.  This people are of Igbo and Benin extractions respectively. They have maintained a strong cultural belief system which has influenced their world view including the way their members relate and perceive discharged prisoners (Osayi, 2013).

According to Igbo, (1999) the traditional Igbo societies within the southeastern Nigeria still perceive and treat ex-convicts as outcasts, evil, wicked and are ex-communicated. This stigma is further emphasized by the legal or state law which so defines the discharged prisoner. They are prohibited from employment to certain positions and occupation of public offices (Osayi, 2013). Thus for the inmates to survive these frustrations, effective rehabilitation for basic psychological and vocational skills for survival becomes highly imperative. Otherwise, confronted with societal hostility and insecurity, discharged inmates may likely end up committing more crimes, that is, relapse to recidivism. Currently, Osayi (2013) reported that recidivism is high in Nigerian prisons

Attention to rates of recidivism therefore could be an important way to monitor the role of prisons in rehabilitating inmates. Schmallenger and Smykla (2005) posited that the rate of recidivism vary greatly from place to place depending on the amount and quality of intervention, surveillance and enforcement. However, the Nigerian government has continued to employ measures to embrace the modern concepts of imprisonment that emphasizes correction rather than punishment. They have put efforts to depict the global correctional services that discourage recidivism. Part of the measures includes the setting up of social welfare department and vocational skill training centres in many of the prisons in Nigeria (Prison Newsletter, 2006).

The social welfare department among other functions carry out counselling/psychological services. As part of its psychological services, the social welfare department assists prison inmates to readily adjust to the prison environment and possibly to life after prison (Prison Newsletter, 2006). In discharging their counselling services, the welfare department cautions inmates on the dangers of criminal actions. For instance, inmates are sensitized on the dangers of their actions. They are told that, should they get rearrested, they may likely receive longer sentence as deterrence. During counselling sessions, they employ techniques like stimulus control where an inmate is advised not to take revenge on people or society who they feel may have wronged them. Inmates are always advised to keep away from company that may possibly influence them negatively and that being contented reduces crime tendencies. The welfare department also allows churches to carry out spiritual activities through preaching and praying for the inmates to help in salvaging their souls. Even those who may exhibit any form of misconduct or violation of rules within the prison are counselled. For example, Onimajesin (2005) noted that, all kinds of vices like, drug abuse, brutality among inmates, homosexuality and theft, fighting, destroying of prison property, disobeying other prison rules and regulations exist within the prison walls. For this reasons psychological services are regularly employed by the welfare officer to counsel inmates. Yet the inmates do not seem to be adjusted for post release life. In other words, recidivism persists.

In addition, the vocational centres were established in prisons to train convicted inmates for various vocational skills like, carpentry, upholstery, barbing, tailoring, shoe making and repair, laundry, electrical, welding, et cetera. After an inmate is released, the welfare department offers after-care services to the freed inmate to ensure that the person utilize the vocational skills and behaviours learned while in prison. Though the centres are in place, some convicted inmates, as reported by some welfare officers in the prisons, show little willingness to engage in any skill training at the centre. Rather, they prefer to work in the kitchen and do other menial works that may earn them little money. Reacting to this attitude among inmates, some of the deputy comptrollers of prison (DCP) interviewed observed that some of the inmates who were even trained and settled by the after-care department returned to prison after release. This may put a question mark on the efficacy of rehabilitation efforts in Nigeria prisons.

The Nigerian government has in the past made efforts to improve the lives of inmates so they can become good citizens on release. For example, food, clothes, books, and other relief materials have regularly been donated by Federal and State governments, corporate organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), churches and religious groups. Agabi (2013) reported that over 2,000 books and seven computers were donated by an NGO to Ikoyi prisons. There were also construction of more accommodations and renovation of existing ones to give the inmates a better environment. Others include granting of amnesty by the President and state Governors-21 prisoners in Anambra state; 40 in Katsina state and 30 in Maiduguri, (Ogundipe in the Reformer, 2006:29). Equally, the establishment of workshops and farms are efforts government and other agencies have made towards rehabilitating inmates. Yet there is increasing rate of recidivism among inmates in some major prisons in Nigeria indicating that the efforts may not have been enough. For instance, Soyombo (2009) reported a pervasive criminal recidivism in Nigeria at 37.3% rate in 2005; Abrifo (2010) estimated the prevalence of recidivism at 52.4% in 2010 while Wilson (2009) reports that studies conducted have documented 81% and 45% of males and females rearrested respectively within 36 months of release from prison custody. Furthermore, annual abstract of statistics of the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) shows that in 1990, no fewer than 482 of the 13,036 offenders were found to have been convicted six times or more, 758 were found to have been convicted five times, 643 three times and 1,252 twice, 2,598 once. Also, Odekunle (2007) notes that prisons regularly receive back almost half of those they have reformed and rehabilitated.

In order to have an effective rehabilitation, efforts must address inmates’ needs and development: empower inmates to cope with their social and personal experiences and develop the cognitive, spiritual, and emotional skills that will enable them to start living a better life. Prisoners are supposed to acquire skills to start life anew and adjust readily into the society after release. Such life skills include positive feelings and regard for one self, positive value placed on success, ability to motivate oneself to accomplish important tasks in life. It also includes the power to become resilient after a fall in life, confident, ability to trust the future without looking in the past, tolerance, independence in decisions taking and responsible in living (Frank, 2014). These life skills will equip them for work, study, vocational training and coping with the stigma associated with imprisonment.

Self-efficacy could be one such life coping skills for inmates and there appears to be a direct relationship between self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self efficacy is defined by Wilson, Kickul and Marlino (2007) as an individual’s self confidence in specific tasks and situations. According to Lo, Cheng, Wong, Rochelle, and Kwok (2011), perceived self-efficacy describes people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self efficacy determines how people feel, think, motivate themselves and behave; it is an individual power over an outcome and one’s ability to succeed in accomplishing a task (Bandura, 1986, 1977). Perhaps, an individual who knows that success is dependent on efforts and not on others, might be willing to engage in behaviours that will yield success. In this study, self-efficacy is considered inmate’s ability to accomplish a task that deals with the challenges of re-offending and also the readiness to live acceptable lives.

The importance of self-efficacy in understanding individual behaviour, one’s decision making processes and effectiveness has been highlighted through research. Bandura (1997) noted that individuals who have a low sense of self-efficacy are more likely to engage in problem behaviours such as delinquency, crime, violence and so on. More importantly, self-efficacy is considered most central for behaviour change. This implies that individuals with low self-efficacy may be more vulnerable to commit crime than those who have high self efficacy. Thus, inmates who are able to produce desired results by their actions or know that the consequences of their actions are dependent on them and not on others may be willing to change. According to Longmore (2003) inmates do not only need reasons to alter risky behaviours/thoughts, they also must believe in their ability to exercise personal control. This personal control can be to engage in long term goals of vocational skill training than earning little money.

Researchers such as Frank (2014) and Santa (2006) have suggested that crime was more frequent for individuals who had lower self-efficacy belief. They do not engage in long term goals. As pointed out by Santa (2006), individuals with low self-efficacy are: impulsive, lack diligence and persistence, drawn to physical activities that are adventurous and exciting but lacking in contemplation or conversation, tend to be indifferent or insensitive to the needs of others, and tend to have low tolerance for frustration and have an inclination to handle conflict through confrontation. Frank (2014) opined that one of the characteristics of low self-efficacy individuals is that they put a great effort into behaving in a way to obtain approval from other people and try to hide their past failures/mistakes from others. For example, many inmates who were interviewed stated that they find it difficult to cope with being labelled ex-prisoner and so try to hide their identity. In doing this, they find acceptance among old friends and end up in more crises.

Reducing recidivism and preventing crimes enhance public safety, resources and human potentials.  Hence proper rehabilitation through a cognitive process to reduce crime remains a critical concern. Intervention programmes that target the criminogenic needs of the inmates are widely recognized as key component to reducing recidivism and crime prevention. Studies by Andrew (1995) and Cullen and Gendreau, (2000) revealed that a reduction in recidivism rate in prisons might be achieved through a rehabilitative strategy that addresses the criminogenic needs. It points to the fact that people are motivated by a variety of needs to offend and that violence might be caused by a deprivation of an individual’s need. As a result, the individual appears to be vulnerable to crime till such needs are met or resolved (Maslow, 1968; Siegel, 2005).

Crime is a socially destabilizing occurrence. The prevention and control can also be a herculean task because the causal elements of crime at any given time vary (Orakwe, 2004). One of the most notable characteristics of criminal offenders is distorted cognition–self-justificatory thinking, misinterpretation of social cues, displacement of blame, deficient moral reasoning, schemas of dominance and entitlement (Beck, 1999; Dodge, 2000: and Walters and White, 1989). Offenders with such distorted thinking may misperceive benign situations as threats. For example, they may be predisposed to perceive harmless remarks as disrespectful or deliberately provocative, demand instant gratification, and confuse wants with needs. Criminal thinking is often tied to a “victim stance” with offenders viewing themselves as unfairly blamed, if not hated, and cast out from society “everyone is against me,” or “society doesn’t give me a chance” while failing to see how their negative belief may have contributed to their problems (Dodge, 2000).

Inmates’ awareness of the process of thoughts that lead to criminal behaviour is critical in developing the desire and motivation to change. The inmates may even desire to live an acceptable life after release, but the non rehabilitation is an indication that this desire may be unrealizable. Even the dehumanizing experience in prison may reduce self-esteem and self efficacy of inmates. Nonetheless, Ellis (1976) pointed out that when thoughts, assumptions, and expectations are inaccurate, false, or irrational, clinical intervention into the thought process, rather than the responses to it, is appropriate. The development of such awareness demands that individuals learn skills for recognizing the thought processes that lead to cognitive distortion of realities.

Cognitive restructuring is a process of learning to refute cognitive distortions or defective thinking with the aim of replacing them with more accurate and beneficial ones. The term cognitive restructuring refers to the alteration of the beliefs, attitudes, and meanings that a person brings to the interpretation of experience (Edwards, 1990). Rodriguez (2009), stated that cognitive restructuring teaches an individual how to recognize distorted thoughts and replace them with realistic ones. Similarly, Connolly (2001) opined that cognitive restructuring involves learning how to think differently, to change fundamental ‘faulty thinking,’ and replace it with more rational, realistic, and perhaps positive thinking. Cognitive restructuring programme as an intervention programme equips individuals with such skills by addressing cognition. Cognitions as strong predictors of recidivism according to Gendreau, Goggin and Little (1996) when confronted and changed can lead to reduction in re-offending (Wilson, Bouffard & Mackenzie, 2005).

Cognitive restructuring may work to change antisocial thoughts that may stem from dysfunctional personality such as low self-esteem and self-efficacy. Thinking errors may allow individuals to interpret their environment in a manner that permits criminal behaviour. For example, if an individual steals from people, his belief system may be that it does not matter how he makes it in life; the end actually justifies the means, and after all he is not the only person that does it. However, the role of cognitive restructuring programme will be to change negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ways of processing information. It will basically attempt to help offenders manage their environment in more pro-social ways. Perhaps cognitive restructuring can help inmates examine the thoughts, beliefs and values that lead to criminal behaviour in a systematic form (Latessa, 2006). According Beck (1979), cognitive restructuring involves the following: identifying maladaptive cognitions, modifying maladaptive cognitions and assimilating adaptive cognitions.

The efficacy of cognitive based therapy such as cognitive restructuring on various behaviour related problems have been demonstrated by researchers. Like, Asonaba, Anti and Avonokadzi (2014); Adeusi (2012) and Osarenren and Ajaero (2013) maintained that with cognitive restructuring targeting irrational and faulty thoughts, the individual will have increased adapted and functional behaviours.  On the other hand, Shih (2008) emphasized that cognitive based treatment reduces the probability of reconviction by 35% which supports the hypothesis that effective treatment is superior to traditional punishment in changing subsequent criminal behaviour. More so, Gatotoh, Omulema and Nassimu (2011); Cullen and Gendreau (2000); Rogers (2008) and Shih (2008) produced a body of evidence showing that cognitive based rehabilitative programs works in reducing recidivism. In line with the above, Lipsey and Cullen (2007) also found that offenders who received cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT) have lower recidivism rates than those who did not receive treatment. The analyses showed average recidivism reduction effects in the 20% range. Lipsey and Cullen also concluded that the preponderance of research evidence, therefore, supports the general conclusion that CBT is capable of reducing the re-offence (recidivism) rates of convicted offenders.

Cognitive restructuring involves paying attention to thoughts, recognizing when they are irrational, challenging them, and learning replacement thoughts and behaviours. Burns (1989) posited that cognitive restructuring involves the following steps:

  • Step one – Identify the upsetting situation;
  • Step two – Record your negative feelings;
  • Step three – Record your automatic thoughts;
  • Step four – Analyze these thoughts;
  • Step five – Construct realistic and balanced thoughts;
  • Step six – Evaluate this restructuring process.

In view of the above, cognitive restructuring might be effective in reducing recidivism. Although there are several ways to change maladaptive behaviours including punishment, Bonta (2001) posited that punishment alone is not an effective means for preventing recidivism. It is evident that programmes that are behavioural, primarily of cognitive type are very effective at reducing recidivism among offenders in general (Lipsey, 1999; Milman & Wanberg, 2007). The aim of treatment using cognitive restructuring is to restructure the cognitive distortions and dysfunctional thought processes of the offender that lead to inappropriate, deviant and negative behaviours.

Nevertheless, Need-focused cognitive restructuring intervention programme adopts as its core, the process in cognitive restructuring for meeting and intervening on the identified needs of the inmates. This was based on the need principle that intervention programmes must target the criminogenic needs. The criminogenic needs include those values, attitudes or behaviours of the offender that are mostly associated with the likelihood of recidivism. For this study, the needs of the prison inmates identified through Focus Group Discussion (FGD) include among others, poor self-value, difficulty accepting failure and mistakes; difficulty recognizing strengths and self worth. These personality needs, values and skills may likely equip inmates to fit into the society on release. Cullen and Gendreau (2000), emphasized that correctional treatments must focus on dynamic risk factors, such as low self-control, dysfunctional family ties, substance abuse and antisocial values.

The need-focused cognitive restructuring intervention programme process or steps for intervention include:

  • Definition and the relevance of self-esteem and self-efficacy to life challenges;
  • Identify the upsetting situation;
  • Identify negative self talks of both self-esteem and self-efficacy;
  • Record negative feelings;
  • Analyze the thoughts;
  • Construct realistic and rational thoughts;
  • Recognizing strengths and self worth;
  • Developing skill set (coping skills);
  • Evaluate the restructuring process.


The causes of criminal behaviour also hinges on the fact that various factors of which gender is one. The choice to break the law can be attributable to gender. Fergusson and Horwood (2002) suggested that individuals with low self-esteem are prone to delinquency and anti social behaviours and according to McMullen and Cairney (2004), males have higher self-esteem than females. Logically it can be adduced therefore, that males have less involvement in crime than females. Research has also continued to give evidence that there are more male offenders than females in prison custody and that it is assumed that males are more susceptible to reoffend compared to females. Abrifo, Atere, and Moughalu (2010); Kim and Kim (2005) and Rigby and Cox (2000) citing Wilson and Herrnstein opined that in virtually every society for which crime records exists, the prevalence of crime and violence is greater among males compared to female offenders. However, Erol and Orth (2011) and Uba, Yaacob, Juhari and Talib (2010) posited that males and females do not differ in the self-esteem levels given that both males and females have the same proportionate involvement in crime. In line with the above, rehabilitative treatment could be gender based, in that Ogugua (2010) found that females gained higher mean achievement scores than their male counterparts when CR technique is adopted. Contrary, Olubusayo (2014), discovered gender differences in among students exposed to CR with males benefitting more than females. However there was no gender differences among persons exposed to CR on various forms of behaviour modification (Adeusi, (2012); Etaugh, & Hall (1989); Salman, Esere, Omotosho, Abdulahi & Oniyangi (2010).

There seem to be relative contradictions about gender differences in self-esteem and self-efficacy levels as well as in delinquent behaviours and recidivism. It is also very unclear whether males will benefit from the treatment more than the females or vice versa. This scenario therefore prompted the researcher to examine gender as a moderator variable in the effects of need-focused cognitive restructuring intervention programme on the self-esteem and self-efficacy of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons.


Statement of the Problem

The issue of recidivism among inmates has become increasingly common in prisons and has aroused the concerns of major stake holders including government, educators, social workers, security agents and nongovernmental organizations and the prison services. Recidivism among prison inmates is believed to pose threats to security of life and property in Nigeria.

It is on record that the Nigeria government have continued to expend huge resources in prisons to deter criminals from going back to prisons. Yet available evidence indicates that inmates still return to prison soon after release either for the same offence or similar offences. Interview conducted through FGD revealed that inmates feel embittered with life events around them, depressed and helpless, rejected by friends and families. The causes of their problems as stated by some of the inmates were attributed to other people and to some supernatural powers/curses. None seemed to accept the blame for their problems. A large number of them see themselves as being useless; their world crashed and cannot make it again in life. These points to the fact that, the inmates are unprepared to face the difficulties of life outside the prison and the resultant effect could be relapse into crime.

In addition, the high rate of misconducts among inmates like smoking of hard drugs, punishing and oppressing new inmates, disobedience to prison rules and regulations, destruction of prison property, among others indicate that inmates are not sufficiently ready so much as to cope with life when released. Life becomes frustrating when they cannot find means of livelihood, accommodation, or even reunite with their friends and families. It even becomes more difficult when they are stigmatized. Moreover, the harsh treatments from some prison officials could also be dehumanizing and ego threatening, and perhaps vitiate reform and rehabilitative (including counselling) initiatives embedded in the philosophy of prison services.

Many researches have been carried out on the numerous factors that lead to and reduce recidivism. Policies have also been formulated and implemented including establishment of counselling centres yet the rate of reoffending persists. In the light of the above, the question that may arise is: what would be the effect of need-focused cognitive restructuring (NEFCRIP) on the self-esteem and self-efficacy of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine the effects of need-focused cognitive restructuring on self-esteem and self-efficacy of recidivist inmates in Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks to determine the:

  1. effect of need-focused cognitive restructuring intervention programme (NEFCRIP)on self-esteem of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons.
  2. effect of need-focused cognitive restructuring on self-efficacy of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons.
  3. differences in the effect of NEFCRIP on inmates’ self-esteem based on gender.
  4. differences in the effect of NEFCRIP on inmates’ self-efficacy based on gender.
  5. interaction effect of treatment and gender on self-esteem of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons.
  6. interaction effect of treatment and gender on self-efficacy of recidivist inmates in Nigeria prisons.


Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be of significance theoretically. The study is anchored on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Ellis’s rational emotive theories. The findings of the study will help to understand better the existing theory which explains the basis for criminality and reoffending as a negative reaction to unsatisfied needs and also that behaviour problems originate from stored irrational cognitive scripts which can be changed by substituting the stored irrational schema with rational schema. This can be achieved through need-focused cognitive restructuring intervention programme

The findings of the study equally are of theoretical significance to Rosenberg’s self-esteem, Adler’s psychodynamic theory (self-esteem) and Bandura’s self-efficacy theory when they are made available in print. These theories propose the thesis that the cognitive variables of self-esteem and self-efficacy respectively impact significantly on subsisting exigencies to give direction and strength to observed human behaviour. Inmates who receive NEFCRIP targeting inmates’ self-esteem and self-efficacy will have positive thoughts replacing the negative ones. Inmates will learn not to attribute their problems on anybody or events. This invariably will help them cope with frustrations and difficulties of life after prison.

The findings when published will be beneficial to a number of persons including, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, the Federal and state governments and policy makers. Also, prison re-offenders and stake holders like the church and nongovernmental organizations, researchers, school psychologists, counsellors and students will benefit in different ways when the findings are published.

The Intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria like the state security services (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) will benefit from the findings when published. It will serve as guide for dealing with numerous re-offenders when re-arrested. They will learn that there are other significant ways to address criminality apart from the extreme harsh treatments and punishment which they employ often. To the Judiciary, they may employ and give strict orders for a psychological intervention programme for recidivists than sentencing them to longer jail terms to serve as deterrence. Through the publication of the findings of the study, the prison staff, especially the welfare officers will learn to use NEFCRIP as cognitive based intervention programme/tool. They will also learn to be consistent in their welfare services.

The findings will assist inmates in addressing their personal needs including their criminogenic needs. Development of coping skills and strengths by the inmates are needful for resisting criminal tendencies. Therefore when the findings are published and rehabilitation mounted, inmates will be properly guided towards the development of such skills. Again, by refuting negative thoughts, inmates will be enabled to have positive thoughts and understand that thinking and living positive are exigent in life’s success. The realization that one’s performance in any task depends on one’s positive decisions and determinations and also not by luck or chance may motivate the inmates to evaluate and take responsibility for their actions and develop skills for living worthwhile life.

The findings of this study will provide the psychologists, counselors, social workers and students with empirical data for research, training, intervention, reduction and prevention of recidivism among inmates in the prisons in Nigeria. Furthermore, it will provide an understanding of the effectiveness of need focused cognitive restructuring, and its relevance in the reduction of the effects of recidivism. Psychologists and counsellors will be enlightened on the likely causes of recidivism and factors associated with it. They will also know better the most intervention programme like NEFCRIP. Psychologists, counselors as well as social workers are expected to help inmates to build their self esteem and self-efficacy, teach them new skills and life coping strategies. Inmates will be taught that events are not really causes of behavioural problems but the interpretations given to these events. Through constant communication with the inmates, the psychologists and counsellors can make referral cases or report accordingly to the judiciary for inmates who may show evidence of change as the case may be.

More importantly, students will benefit from the findings. Inmates who may gain from the programme may become agents for change among in-school adolescents who may likely want to toe the path of violence as a means for survival. A deeper knowledge of recidivism and its psychological implication both to the offender and the entire society will be learnt by students when the findings are published. Through psychological services/counselling, campaigns, seminars, presentations and workshops students and the general public will be sensitized on the dangers of recidivism as wells as the dangers of our attitude towards the released from prisons.

Nongovernmental agencies and churches will become aware through workshops and seminars on effect of an intervention programme that is cognitive based which is capable of reducing recidivism among inmates. In addition to donation of relief materials, the churches and NGO’s will begin to engage regular services of psychologists and counsellors in the prisons. This will help to reduce recidivism to the barest minimum.

Through seminars and workshops, policy makers, Federal and State government will learn to place more care and attention to the needs of the prisoners by providing adequate and effective intervention programmes like NEFCRIP. The findings will contribute in the formulation of government policies and establishment of prevention programmes to reduce recidivism among inmates. In addition, it will create awareness on the increasing rate of recidivism among inmates in the so many prisons. This will enable the government and policy makers to intervene before it escalates.

The findings of this study will be a useful addition of knowledge to the already existing literature on the various variables and theories it researched. The findings bring to the fore empirical evidence of the increasing rate of recidivism; factors associated with recidivism and its effects as well as some appropriate intervention strategies for handling recidivism. It also brings to limelight the efficacy of NEFCRIP on the self-esteem and self-efficacy towards reducing recidivism.


The findings bring to the fore empirical evidence of the increasing rate of recidivism and its effects as well as some appropriate intervention strategies for handling recidivism.


Scope of the Study

The study covered inmates who are recidivist in prisons in the zone G of the prison service in Nigeria. The choice of the inmates in the Zone was based on the fact that they have high number of re-offending inmates that may be attributable to cultural unfairness to imprisonment.

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