Best Practice Guidelines for Supervising Probationers with Brain Injury

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Kim Gorgens

Second Advisor

Laura Meyer

Third Advisor

David Morrow


Brain injury, Criminal justice, Community corrections, Recidivism, Supervision, Probation


Research has consistently demonstrated an over-representation of brain injury (BI) history (i.e., traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury) among individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system (CJS) (Gorgens et al., 2021). In community corrections specifically, 47% of individuals on probation report a significant history of BI (Gorgens et al., 2021). These individuals have higher rates of behavioral health conditions and felony convictions and are more likely to be determined to be “high risk” by their probation officers. They also have lower rates of successful probation completion and are significantly more likely to reoffend (Gorgens et al., 2021). In community corrections, cognitive impairments resulting from BI may present as non-compliance and poor engagement, both of which increase the risk of probation failure (McMurran & Theodosi, 2007).

Given the prevalence of BI in the CJS, probation department professionals are likely to interact with, assess, supervise, refer, and make recommendations for individuals with BI on a regular basis (Nagele et al., 2018). However, probation professionals may be unaware of the complications that BI presents in this context. According to some published recommendations, probation departments “must launch training programs to improve the familiarity of staff with the symptoms and consequences” of brain injuries (Brown et al., 2018, p. 5). That work highlights the importance of screening for BI and referring individuals on probation to appropriate resources. However, with growing pressures on time and resources, as well as a better understanding of the psychosocial vulnerabilities that are unique to this population, updated guidelines are needed.

This document outlines updated best practices for the identification and management of BI and is grounded in the Colorado Brain Injury Model. These practice guidelines are designed to support probation department professionals managing this high need population and to promote self-advocacy among probationers so that the burden of care is reduced for probation officers.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


23 pgs

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