U.S. Department of Justice

Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) historically comes from the medical field as a method to utilize clinical research findings to improve medical decision making and lower risk.

In corrections, Evidence-Based Practice is the breadth of research and knowledge around processes and tools which can improve correctional outcomes, such as reduced recidivism. Tools and best practices are provided with a focus on both decision making and implementation.

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Former NIC Division Chief, George Keiser, explains evidence-based corrections.

Direct Link: http://community.nicic.gov/files/folders/9085/download.aspx

Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
Document 024372
A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Center for Effective Public Policy (Philadelphia, PA); Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC); Justice Management Institute (JMI) (Denver, CO); The Carey Group (Silver Spring, MD).
This report is essential reading for individuals wanting to achieve "measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct and post-conviction reoffending" (p.6). Eight sections follow an introduction (a new paradigm for the justice system): underlying premises; the key decision points, decision makers, and stakeholders in the criminal justice system; examining justice system decision making through the lens of harm reduction; the principles underlying the framework; applying evidence-based principles to... Read More
68 p.
Document 026917
Evidence-Based Practices in the Criminal Justice System: An Annotated Bibliography
National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Aurora, CO).
“What Is the Evidence? Evidence-based policy and practice is focused on reducing offender risk, which in turn reduces new crime and improves public safety. Of the many available approaches to community supervision, a few core principles stand out as proven risk reduction strategies. Though not all of the principles are supported by the same weight of evidence, each has been proven to influence positive behavior change. To organize the research, these core principles have been compiled… into the ... Read More
82 pages
Document 025475
Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes--July 2011 Update
By Aos, Steve; Lee, Stephanie; Drake, Elizabeth; Pennucci, Annie; Klima, Tali; Miller, Marna; Anderson, Laurie; Mayfield, Jim; Burley, Mason. Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Olympia, WA).
An overview is presented of findings (as of July 2011) regarding “a comprehensive list of programs and policies that improve … outcomes for children and adults in Washington and result in more cost-efficient use of public resources” (p. 1). Sections comprising this report are: summary; background; the four-step research approach that assesses what works, calculates costs and benefits and ranks options, measures the risks associated with the analysis, and estimates the impact of various option co... Read More
8 pages
Document 024402
6 Evidence-Based Practices Proven to Lower Recidivism: Learning to Trust the Research
By Hooley, Doug. CorrectionsOne.com (San Francisco, CA).
If you are concerned about recidivism, this article is for you. The author explains how six integrated practices will lower your recidivism rates. These are: risk/needs assessment; individual motivators; target the appropriate intervention; rewire the brain; increase positive reinforcement; and ongoing support.... Read More
4 p.
Document 027114
Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (Rockville, MD). GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation (Delmar, NY).
“In the field of mental health, the term evidence-based practices (EBPs) refers to interventions that have been rigorously tested, have yielded consistent, replicable results, and have proven safe, beneficial, and effective for most people diagnosed with mental illness.” The following five factsheets address EBPs that can be adaptable to criminal justice settings: Assertive Community Treatment (ACT); Supportive Employment; Illness Self-Management and Recovery; Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurri... Read More

Related Resources

Date Title Type
Document 027899
Family-Youth Initiative
PbS Learning Institute, Inc. (Braintree, MA) .
An innovative strategy for addressing the needs of incarcerated youth and their families is described. It involves the use of “four standards for facilities that, when met, will lead to positive outcomes and best practices for working with families” (p. 4). Sections cover: PbS Family-Youth Initiative (FYI)—uniting facilities and families; creating the new normal for incarcerated youth; FYI development; PbS Family Survey; and additional PbS family data.... Read More
6 pages
Document 027904
Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Washington, DC); The Legal Action Center. National H.I.R.E. Network (New York, NY); National Workrights Institute (Princeton, NJ).
“Hiring new employees is a critically important function in any business, government agency, or non-profit organization. Every hiring decision represents a major investment that employers must make with limited information. Checking criminal history is just a small part of this process, which may also include verifying education, prior employment and other reference information. The Best Practice Standards will help employers properly weigh adverse personal history to find those applicants who w... Read More
30 pages
Document 027683
Video: More Structured Interaction with Offenders to Help Change Behavior
By West, Norah. Washington State Dept. of Corrections (Olympia, WA).
“Community corrections officers in field offices across Washington state are part of a pilot project that uses an evidence-based intervention method to help offenders make positive changes in their thinking and behavior. Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) gives officers a way to build rapport with offenders and recognize positive behavior as well as ways to teach offenders positive social skills and techniques, and strategies to help offenders change their thinking. Research sh... Read More
6 minutes
Document 027913
The Effect of Youth Diversion Programs on Recidivism: A Meta-Analytic Review
By Wilson, Holly A.; Hoge, Robert D..
This article is essential reading for those individuals involved with juvenile justice reform. “Pre- and postcharge diversion programs have been used as a formal intervention strategy for youth offenders since the 1970s. This meta-analysis was conducted to shed some light on whether diversion reduces recidivism at a greater rate than traditional justice system processing and to explore aspects of diversion programs associated with greater reductions in recidivism” (p. 497). Sections cover: forma... Read More
22 pages
Document 027802
A Lifetime of Punishment: The Impact of the Felony Drug Ban on Welfare Benefits
By Mauer, Marc; McCalmont, Virginia. The Sentencing Project (Washington, DC).
“PRWORA [Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act] imposed a denial of federal benefits to people convicted in state or federal courts of felony drug offenses. The ban is imposed for no other offenses but drug crimes. Its provisions that subject individuals who are otherwise eligible for receipt of SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] or TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families] benefits to a lifetime disqualification applies to all states unless they act t... Read More
12 pages
Document 027514
Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the U.S. Department of Justice’s “A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents”
U.S. Dept. of Justice. Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) (Washington, DC).
“This guide is designed to assist administrators of prisons, jails, and community confinement facilities in drafting or revising protocols for an immediate response to reports of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a persistent problem in correctional environments with life-altering consequences for victims as well as for the integrity of correctional institutions and the fundamental principles of justice. The U.S. Department of Justice’s “National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Pris... Read More
66 pages
Document 027723
Guidelines for the Successful Transition of People with Behavioral Health Disorders from Jail and Prison
By Blandford, Alex M.; Osher, Fred. GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation (Delmar, NY); Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center (New York, NY).
The Behavioral Health Framework developed to “help professionals in the corrections and behavioral health systems take a coordinated approach to reducing recidivism and advancing recovery” is explained (p. 2). Sections of this publication cover: building effective partnerships through a shared vision; health care reform and opportunities for expanded access to behavioral health services; prioritizing enrollment to facilitate transition; the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model; implications for su... Read More
43 pages
Document 027252
Implications of the Affordable Care Act on People Involved with the Criminal Justice System
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC). Council of State Governments. Justice Center (New York, NY).
“This brief provides an overview of the implications of the ACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] for adults involved with the criminal justice system, as well as information about how professionals in the criminal justice field can help this population access the services now available to them” (p. 1). Sections cover: the opportunity; what ACA means to people involved with the criminal justice system; the “individual mandate” of the ACA; the role of criminal justice agencies—determin... Read More
6 pages
Document 027265
When a Person Isn’t a Data Point: Making Evidence-Based Practice Work
By Lowenkamp, Christopher T.; Holsinger, Alexander M.; Robinson, Charles R.; Cullen, Francis T..
This article presents a critical look at the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in corrections. “While we [the authors] agree that the field of corrections has increased the quality of programming and services over the years (i.e., listening to the data points), we argue that the EBP movement in the field of corrections is widespread but exceedingly shallow (failing to see the person) … In an effort to illustrate how we have missed the essence of EBP in corrections, we present the history of... Read More
16 pages
Document 027807
Transition Age Youth With Mental Health Challenges in the Juvenile Justice System
By Zajac, Kristyn; Sheidow, Ashli L.; Davis, Maryann. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (Rockville, MD); National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (Bethesda, MD); National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Bethesda, MD); National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) (Washington, DC). Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) (Washington, DC); National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) (Delmar, NY).
Anyone working with transitional youth, individuals aged 16 to 25 years, needs to read this brief. It will help you in understanding their mental health problems, recidivism, and effective transition to adulthood. Sections of this brief include: overview, development during transition to adulthood, and potential pitfalls of the transition age; mental health problems and juvenile justice involvement during the transition age; critical issues facing justice-involved transition age youth with menta... Read More
61 pages
Document 027625
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults
By Davis, Lois M.; Bozick, Robert; Steele, Jennifer L.; Saunders, Jessica; Miles, Jeremy N.V.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). RAND Corp. Safety and Justice Program (Santa Monica, CA).
“In this report, we [the authors] examine the evidence about the effectiveness of correctional education for incarcerated adults in the United States. By correctional education, we mean the following: adult basic education (ABE): basic skills instruction in arithmetic, reading, writing, and, if needed, English as a second language (ESL); adult secondary education (ASE): instruction to complete high school or prepare for a certificate of high school equivalency, such as the General Education Deve... Read More
230 pages
Document 027914
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center: Final Report
By Lee, Cynthia G.; Cheesman, Fred L.; Rottman, David B.; Swaner, Rachel; Lambson, Suvi; Rempel, Mike; Curtis, Ric. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (Washington, DC). National Center for State Courts (NCSC) (Williamsburg, VA).
This study examines the effectiveness of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) in tackling multiple problems that contribute to crime, public safety, and quality of life in the local community. This report has chapters covering: the theoretical foundations and study context; evaluation data and methods; planning RHCJC; organizational structure and staffing; community and youth programs—Housing Court and the Housing Resource Center, youth programs, community programs and public outreach, ... Read More
286 pages

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Available Training Opportunities

  • Available Online - Program Planning and Design
    This e-course focuses on translating the principles of evidence-based practice into an effective program design.
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