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Evidence-based practice

Researchers of criminal behavior are taking a more data-driven approach to community corrections. Rather than focusing solely on professional experience or anecdotal successes — key factors that often drive public policy in social services — they are identifying evidence-based practices that rely on empirical research and produce measurable outcomes. The challenge for providers is to bridge the gap between theoretical best practices and practicable intervention models that reduce recidivism rates and keep communities safe. One organization that is finding success in bridging this gap is Massachusetts-based Roca, Inc. (p. 1)

“A risk-based Incentives and Sanctions program is an evidence-based intervention where supervising officers apply sanctions or rewards in response to specific behaviors of the offender. The goal is to increase positive behavior change related to behavior such as reducing drug use or applying for jobs” (p. 1). This primer covers what contingency management is; how it works; why it works; who to use it with; important things to remember; what the research says; the immediate, certain, relevant, and consistent sanctions or rewards; and implementation ideas.

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The contingency management component of a cognitively-behaviorally based substance abuse treatment program in a probation setting is examined. Individuals looking to set up a similar treatment program will find this article very informative. The program is called "Supporting Offenders to Avoid Recidivism and Initiate New Goals (SOARING)". Sections following an abstract include: contingency management (CM) overview; CM intervention settings; CM intervention in substance use treatment; CM in criminal justice settings; a test of CM in community supervision; discussion about target behaviors (or goals) and related issues, contingency issues, and urinalysis issues; and implications.

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"This manual provides a simple and straightforward approach to implementing evidence-based practice" (p. 3). This manual explains: quality assurance plan development; peer review; quality assurance indicators; customer satisfaction; program evaluation; and individual performance measurement. Samples of pertinent forms are also included.

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Principles of effective evidence-based intervention are presented. Topics discussed include: evidence-based practice (EBP); term clarification; eight principles for effective interventions -- assess actuarial risk/needs, enhance intrinsic motivation, target interventions, skill train with directed practice, increase positive reinforcement, engage ongoing support in natural communities, measure relevant processes/practices, and provide measurement feedback; components of correctional interventions; implementing EBP principles; applying the principles at the case, agency, and system levels; seven recommended strategies for implementing effective interventions; and levels of research evidence.

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“Community corrections researchers and practitioners face many barriers when trying to implement evidence-based programs and practices in the field. This webinar offers some practical strategies for improving the implementation process and achieving better program results. James Bonta describes the efforts of the research team at Public Safety Canada to develop the Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS) model and the large-scale, systematic steps taken to help ensure successful implementation of the program. STICS focuses on the role of probation officers, and works to improve the effectiveness of their day-to-day interactions with offenders. Kimberly Sperber discusses risk-based dosage, or how much treatment is required to impact recidivism of offenders. Knowing that high-risk offenders should receive more services and supervision is not the same as knowing how much more services and supervision are needed to yield the maximum reductions in recidivism. Practitioners too often have little guidance on "how much is enough," which can hinder adherence to the principles of effective correctional intervention. “

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The use of collaboration to implement an integrated system reform model is explained. This publication has sections regarding: the need to collaborate; who should be included; the need for structure; sustaining collaboration; a collaborative model for implementing change; essential elements of collaboration; chartering; and consensus decision-making.

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Organizational development (OD) concepts and strategies that foster organizational change and reform are described. Sections of this publication include: changing the way business is done -- the integrated model; organizational case management; the leadership challenge; the influence of infrastructure; step by step; the literature; the integrated organizational change process model; the importance of a healthy organization; leadership styles and leading change; managing transitions; and structural supports for change.

Implementing Evidence-based Practice

“Employment providers are already serving large numbers of individuals released from correctional facilities or who are required to find jobs as conditions of their probation or parole. Yet the corrections, reentry, and workforce development fields have lacked an integrated tool that draws on the best thinking about reducing recidivism and improving job placement and retention to guide correctional supervision and the provision of community-based services. To address this gap, this white paper presents a tool that draws on evidence-based criminal justice practices and promising strategies for connecting hard-to-employ people to work. It calls for program design and practices to be tailored for adults with criminal histories based on their levels of risk for future criminal activity” (p. v). Sections of this publication include: introduction to the relationship between employment and recidivism; what works to reduce recidivism—principles for improving outcomes among unemployed individuals with corrections system-involvement; proven and promising practices for improving outcomes for hard-to-employ individuals; and the resource-allocation and service-matching tool—an integrated approach to reducing recidivism and improving employment outcomes.

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness Cover

Evidence-based and research-based programs to be used by adult corrections in Washington State are inventoried. Three parts comprise this report: definitions—evidence-based, research-based, and cost-beneficial; updated reviews using a three-step research process (evidence, benefits and costs, and risk), effective practices in community corrections, sex offender treatment, and conclusion; and the inventory. “WSIPP identified two programs—sex offender treatment and EPICS—that were not previously included in WSIPP’s evidence- and research-based results. Our updated findings on the two topics in this report allowed us to incorporate the results in the adult corrections inventory. The weight of the evidence indicates that sex offender treatment, delivered in confinement or in the community, is evidence-based and generates benefits that exceed costs. Our findings on EPICS [Effective Practices in Community Supervision], however, are not as clear cut. While we find supervision based on RNR principles is effective, the evidence on the particular approach—EPICS—is still undetermined until further research becomes available” (p. 5-6).

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