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Evidence-based practice

“Recent evidence to improve the implementation of evidence-based supervision has focused on new training initiatives for staff. While training of staff is important to advance skills and knowledge about these practices, training can be very limited. Organizational strategies are needed to sustain the effort in evidence-based supervision. This article focuses on seven strategies.” Sections of this article include: what is all the hoopla about; strategies at the organizational level/completing the skill building— Strategy 1: Build capacity through an organizational plan and structure that supports and sustains the implementation of evidence-based practices and quality supervision; Strategy 2: Build capacity through revised Mission that focuses on the changes related to RNR supervision; Strategy 3: Build capacity by planning for change in key areas; Strategy 4: Build Resiliency through internal supports and learn the skills, practice the skills.; Strategy 5: Build Resiliency Through Improvements in Work Processes; Strategy 6: Collaborate with agencies toward a common goal of improving offender outcomes and promoting public safety; and Strategy 7: Build resiliency by altering offender involvement in key decisions; and conclusion.

7 Keys Cover

The Framework describes key criminal justice decisions, evidence-based knowledge about effective justice practices, and practical local and state-level strategies for applying risk and harm reduction principles and techniques.

A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in State and Local Criminal Justice Systems cover

This document highlights the commitment of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to define and support evidence-based practices that improve decision-making at the pretrial stage of our criminal justice system, enhancing the safety of America’s communities and fostering the fair administration of pretrial release and detention. With the release of A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency, NIC and its Pretrial Executive Network helps inform the discussion on bail reform and pretrial justice by presenting and defining the fundamentals of an effective pretrial system and the essential elements of a high functioning pretrial services agency. This publication presents and describes these essential elements—as well as the components of an evidence-based framework for improving pretrial outcomes nationwide. 

Bail determination is one of the most important decisions in criminal justice. Courts that make evidence-based decisions set the following as goals: (1) Protecting community safety; (2) Ensuring a defendant’s return to court; (3) Basing release and detention decisions on an individual defendant’s risk and the community’s norms for liberty; [and] (4) Providing judicial officers with clear, legal options for appropriate pretrial release and detention decisions.

A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency should serve as a guide for jurisdictions interested in improving their current pretrial systems. By presenting a framework of evidence-based and best practices, NIC supports the equally important concepts of pretrial justice and enhanced public safety in all of America’s courts. 

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"This article presents a practical approach that JJ [juvenile justice] systems can take in achieving evidence-based programming that reduces recidivism. Most JJ system programs produce relatively small reductions in recidivism, on average, thus there is much room for improvement. A research-based approach to making program improvements system-wide—and with that, increase the cost effectiveness of the system itself—is presented in this article. The success of this effort, however, depends on delivery of the right service to the right youth at the right time. The OJJDP Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders provides the scaffolding and structured decision-making tools that can be used across entire juvenile justice systems for promoting effective matches between evidence-based services and offender treatment needs on an ongoing basis" (p. 1). Sections of this document include: introduction—what an evidence-based program is, and taking a proactive approach to program improvements; a Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders—the OJJDP Comprehensive Strategy, the age-crime curve, a developmental pathways model, and risk and protective factors; key administrative tools for achieving evidence-based juvenile justice systems—the right service, to the right youth, at the right time, a system of graduated sanctions/responses, and state examples of Comprehensive Strategy benefits (North Carolina and Florida); and conclusion.

A Practical Approach Cover

"At a national level, minority clients are less likely to access mental and behavioral health services and drop out of treatment more frequently than nonminority counterparts. While this phenomenon is driven by social and economic factors, it is reasonable to assume it also may be due to a lack of adequate training in culturally congruent therapeutic approaches. The Cultural Enhancement Model presented in this paper addresses engagement factors at the community and individual-level in order to overcome barriers to EBP [evidence-based practice] dissemination and program retention." Sections of this toolkit include: introduction—EBP implementation challenges, cultural competence, cultural adaptation framework, and engagement; the Cultural Enhancement Model (CEM)—Family Integrated Transitions (FIT), and five phases in applying the CEM (identify community advisory team, information-gathering, development, implementation, and evaluation); and summary. Appendixes provide an example of a work plan, sample survey, enhancement proposal example, and FIT Latino Enhancement Materials—common conversational Spanish phrases, "Barriers to Discussing Emotions with Latino Clients", "Conversational Spanish as an Engagement Tool", "Key DBT [Dialectical Behavioral Therapy] Terms and Definitions: English to Spanish Translation", "Working with an Interpreter", "DBT Concepts with Latino Clients: Discussing Emotions", " DBT Concepts with Latino Clients: Distress Tolerance", DBT Concepts with Latino Clients: Wise Mind", and "Como se Siente Usted? (How Do You Feel?).

A Toolkit for Applying the Cultural Enhancement Model To Evidence-Based Practice Cover

“Dr. Chandler will discuss why punishment alone is an ineffective response to the problem of drug abuse in the criminal justice system … Dr. Chandler will also highlight evidence-based principles of addiction treatment based on an integrated public health/public safety strategy.” Topics discussed include: drugs of abuse and crime are linked; smoking in criminal justice; mental health disorders among incarcerated populations; key participants in the criminal justice system and intervention opportunities; what addiction is—a disease of the brain; reward circuits; dopamine; memory circuits; cocaine craving; treatments for relapse prevention—medications and behavioral; evidence-based principles of drug abuse treatment for criminal justice populations; what recovery looks like on average; assessing risks, needs, and progress; criminal justice CEST (Client Evaluation of Self and Treatment); and tailoring supervision to fit the needs of the individual is important.

Addiction, The Brain, and Evidence Based Treatment Cover

"In recent years, interest in high-quality parole decisionmaking has grown significantly. Paroling authorities are under considerable pressure and subject to substantial public scrutiny as they strive to reach high-quality parole decisions that ensure public safety. In this context, the Legal Decision-Making Lab at Carleton University has been working for nearly a decade to develop and improve a decisionmaking tool for parole practitioners. This tool, the Structured Decisionmaking Framework, acts as a road map or guideline for professional decisionmakers to help them reach consistent, transparent, and defensible high-quality conditional release decisions. It acknowledges the professional expertise and extensive experience of parole decisionmakers by using a structured approach that guides paroling authorities through the process of making parole decisions by considering offender information demonstrated to be closely linked to post-release performance. Given this grounding, the Framework can help paroling authorities incorporate or enhance the use of evidence-based practice in their decisionmaking. Through its technical assistance program, the National Institute of Corrections facilitated opportunities for three states—Ohio, Connecticut, and Kansas—to examine the use of the Structured Decisionmaking Framework in their jurisdictions. The paroling authorities in these states all received training in the use of the Framework. Though the Framework has been extensively validated and its use supported via research in Canada, each state also participated in a small-scale exercise aiming to provide preliminary validation results specific to their jurisdiction. This document summarizes the results of these validation exercises" (p. 2).

Sections following an executive summary include: the Structured Decisionmaking Framework; results regarding the use of the Framework and case outcomes in Ohio, Connecticut, and Kansas; and implications with concluding remarks. "Based on the results of these preliminary validation exercises, it appears that the Structured Decisionmaking Framework can contribute to high-quality, transparent and consistent parole decisionmaking by the Ohio Parole Board, Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole, and Kansas Prisoner Review Board … Given the high stakes involved in parole decisionmaking, even minimal improvements in predictive accuracy can result in fewer victims, better management of strained prison capacity, and cost savings. As such, continued investigation of the use of the Structured Decisionmaking Framework is warranted and is supported by preliminary promising results" (p. 46).

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“Drug Courts improve outcomes for drug-abusing offenders by combining evidence-based substance abuse treatment with strict behavioral accountability. Participants are carefully monitored for substance use and related behaviors and receive escalating incentives for accomplishments and sanctions for infractions. The nearly unanimous perception of both participants and staff members is that the positive effects of Drug Courts are largely attributable to the application of these behavioral contingencies … Scientific research over several decades reveals the most effective ways to administer behavior modification programs. Drug Courts that learn these lessons of science reap benefits several times over through better outcomes and greater cost-effectiveness” (p. 1). This publication describes the following science-based practices (also known as evidence-based practices): the carrot and the stick; trust but verify; timing is everything; staying centered; fishing for tangible resources; do due process; whether sanctions or therapeutic consequences; first things first; and phase advancement. Practice Pointers are also provided for each behavior modification strategy.

Behavior Modification 101 for Drug Courts: Making the Most of Incentives and Sanctions Cover

"The New York City Department of Probation (DOP)—the second largest probation department in the country—is advancing a process to infuse evidence-based policies and practices (EBPP) throughout the organization … What is significant for the purpose of this story is that the Federal agencies were able to thoughtfully, strategically, respectfully, and effectively apply the right dosage of technical assistance to the moving train in a way that made the most of the investment and the capacity that BJA and NIC had to marshal for the city" (p. 3-4). This brief explains how the NYC DOP Adult Operations Division partnered with the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Institute of Correction (NIC) to create an organizational culture within the division that was committed to using evidence-based practices. Lessons learned from this collaboration are also covered. This document is comprised of six sections: what the BJA and NIC technical assistance providers worked on with DOP, and how their work fit with other pilot programs, initiatives, and philanthropic support; what is unique about DOP from the perspective of Federal agencies that engage in technical assistance with local agencies; what is unique about what the partners brought to the table, what kind of technical assistance approach they developed together, and how it was managed and delivered; how the Federal agencies’ technical assistance advanced DOP’s EBPP goals; where New York City’s DOP evidence-based practice work is taking the department; and conclusion--what the rest of the field can learn from the DOP, BJA, and NIC technical assistance collaborative partnership, and why it does matter.

Case Study: New York City Department of Probation’s Federal Partnership Efforts: Profile of a Successful Technical Assistance Collaboration With the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Corrections Cover

The impact of evidence-based training on the level of probation officers’ (POs) knowledge of “what works” in effective interventions and also on the POs’ attitudes about providing better service are examined. This study shows that “the training had an immediate effect on several indicators regarding knowledge of evidence-based correctional practices, belief in self-efficacy regarding offender change (on the part of probation officers), and an increasing awareness of the importance of core correctional practices and the effectiveness of the IBIS [Integrated Behavioral Intervention Strategies] skills … these changes represent an attitudinal change on the part of the POs who were participating in the training.”

Changing Probation Officer Attitudes: Training Experience, Motivation, and Knowledge Cover

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