A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Last Revised: Mar 15, 2011 - Initial Posting: Feb 07, 2006

Southern New Hampshire Services sponsors the Thresholds and Decisions Program to help reduce recidivism by helping offenders improve their decision making abilities, set goals, solve problems and build self-esteem.
Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS) offers Thresholds and Decisions as a critical thinking and decision-making course for inmates in county jails.  An agreement specifying roles and program arrangements has been established between SNHS and the jails.  The program uses trained RSVP volunteers to teach participants to take responsibility for their past, present, and future, and to make good decisions based on the training model.

Volunteers receive intensive training prior to being assigned to the program. Inmates apply and are interviewed for acceptance to the program.  Attendance at group and individual sessions is mandatory as well as completion of homework assignments.  A session is ten-weeks long with emphasis placed on helping the client:

  • Clearly see his or her situation in life
  • Choose appropriate goals
  • Develop the skills that will increase the chances of attaining those goals.

Thresholds and Decisions is taught in various locations across the U.S.  A manual is available for use as a teacher’s guide as well as workbooks for inmates.  The National Association of Counties gave recognition to Thresholds and Decisions through a 2002 Acts of Caring Award.


The recidivism rate of Thresholds and Decisions program graduates is 14% compared to the recidivism rate of the general inmate population, which is over 62%.  In addition, since ALL the inmates are eventually released, to the extent that they do not re-offend, there is a positive effect on public safety as well as less public spending required to support incarceration.


Margaret Rogers, Director of Community Programs - Community Mediation, Inc. (New Haven, CT)