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Evidence-based practice

If you are looking for an introduction to the use of evidence-based practice (EBP) in corrections based drug treatment, then this is for you. EBP "applies the principles and techniques of evidence-based decision making to interventions intended to improve, or ameliorate, the social or clinical problems of affected individuals, including offenders with drug abuse problems. This article provides a general overview of EBP, particularly as it applies to treatment and other interventions for offenders with problems involving drugs (including alcohol). The discussion includes a definition of EBP, notes the implications of using EBPs to make policy and clinical decisions, lists the various efforts by government and academic organizations to identify practices that can be considered evidence based, describes the criteria used by such organizations to evaluate programs as being evidence based, raises some cautions about the use of EBPs, and ends with some challenges in disseminating and implementing EBPs" (p. 10). Following an abstract, this article covers: a definition and implications; evidence-based practice initiatives; meta-analyses of treatment programs for offenders; limitations of randomized designs for evidence-based practices; challenges in disseminating and implementing EBPs; and EPBs having valid yet tentative knowledge about "what works".

Issues in Defining and Applying Evidence-Based Practices Criteria for Treatment of Criminal-Justice Involved Clients Cover

This is the go to place for current information about juvenile justice issues. Anyone working with juvenile offenders should visit this website.

"The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) is the only publication covering juvenile justice and related issues nationally on a consistent, daily basis. In the past, traditional journalism organizations filled this function. Today, due to shrinking resources, there are large gaps in that coverage. The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange fills the void. Focused not just on delivering information, but rather on an “exchange” of ideas, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange fosters a community of support around the issues facing the youth of our country … Doing what is best for children means staying well informed on governmental policies and legislation, court rulings, educational trends, treatment, research, prevention programs and other factors that impact the quality of service delivered to the kids that need them most."

Points of access at this website include: news—brain development, legislation, education, parenting, and the system; policy news; ideas and opinions; Bokeh—the JJIE Photo Blog (multimedia and young journalist reports); story series; and tweets.

The crown jewel of this site is the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub. It provides "[r]eady access to reliable, accurate, curated information and analysis on juvenile justice issues" for the content areas of evidence-based practices, mental health and substance use disorders, community-based alternatives, juvenile indigent defense, and race-ethnic fairness. Each area contains sections on key issues, reform trends, resources, experts in the field, and a glossary.

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This report explains how jurisdictions have integrated the JJSIP [Juvenile Justice Systems Improvement Project] and the JJRRI [Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative] into a successful “evidence-based decision-making platform, consisting of validated risk and needs assessment tools, structured decision-making tools to assist in the better matching of the needs of youth involved in the juvenile justice system with the correct level of supervision and types of services, and evidence-based programs and services (p. 3). This evidence-based platform will reduce recidivism and increase positive youth outcomes, ensure public safety, and decrease juvenile justice system costs.

"Under increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and do more with less, many governments are expanding their use of evidence-based programs—those shown in rigorous evaluations to be effective. Committing to such proven programs can help governments strengthen efficiency and accountability and achieve better outcomes for residents" (p. 1). This article explains how various states have used evidence-based practices (EBPs) in their policymaking. Sections of this brief cover: what evidence-based policymaking is; five types of laws that uphold evidence-based programs--require agencies to inventory and categorize funded programs by their evidence of effectiveness; provide incentives for the use of evidence- and research-based programs; restrict funding of programs shown to be ineffective; require the use of evidence- or research-based programs; and dedicate funding to evidence- or research-based programs; and key considerations.

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This is a great introduction to the process by which an organization can evaluate whether a program is evidence-based is explained. “Although this guide grows out of and is targeted to juvenile justice practitioners, it is generally applicable to programs in other social service fields as well. It also bears noting that the steps described here are neither simple nor easy. Nevertheless, they are worth undertaking—even if a program does not complete the entire process, any progress along the way is likely to be beneficial” (p. 3). This publication explains: what an outcome evaluation is; why you need an outcome evaluation; who to prepare for an outcome evaluation; conducting an outcome evaluation; process evaluation—step one—whether the program is true to its original plan, step 2—the elements of an outcome evaluation, and step 3—the next steps after an outcome evaluation; and what statistical significance means.

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This guide explains how to implement motivational interviewing (MI) in correctional settings. Motivational Interviewing is a counseling technique that enables people to get beyond their reluctance to change problem behaviors. MI is directive (focused on goals), client-centered, and non-confrontational. The first four chapters of this guide “address background and fundamental issues related to agency or systemwide implementation of MI … [while the last two chapters] address agency issues, such as organizational norms, mental models, and leadership styles that can significantly affect the success of MI implementation” (p. 5). These chapters are: what MI is; how MI is learned; supervising and coaching to support implementation; assessing motivational interviewing skills; and planning to help individuals develop MI skills in a correctional setting. A glossary is also included.

Motivational Interviewing in Corrections: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing MI in Corrections Cover

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Model Programs Guide (MPG) contains information about evidence-based juvenile justice and youth prevention, intervention, and reentry programs. It is a resource for practitioners and communities about what works, what is promising, and what does not work in juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety. MPG uses expert study reviewers and’s program review process, scoring instrument, and evidence ratings. The two sites also share a common database of juvenile-related programs. There are three evidence ratings in the MPG—effective, promising, or no effect. Points of entry are: youth programs at a glance; about the MPG; recently posted programs; resources—a huge range of literature reviews, related links, publications, glossary, FAQs, and contact MPG; MPG programs by topic; and all MPG programs. MPG program topical areas are: Child Protection, Health, and Welfare; Children Exposed to Violence and Victimization; Delinquency Prevention; Detention, Confinement, and Supervision; Juvenile and Family Courts; Law Enforcement; Populations; Schools; and Youth Offenders.

This program provides information about the nationwide automated Performance-Based Measures System (PBMS). PBMS is an accurate, consistent way to capture, record, report and share data between correctional agencies. It was created by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the scope and development of PBMS regarding how specific needs gave rise to PBMS solutions;
  • Describe the key components of PBMS;
  • Examine the benefits of using the PBMS during an Evidenced Based Practice decision making process;
  • And identify available resources that support implementation of PBM.
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"This policy brief offers fodder for the state’s Justice Reinvestment leaders as they contemplate the changes necessary to increase the system’s focus on recidivism reduction and achieve results" (p. 2). Sections of this brief cover: key findings; the high cost of recidivism in Massachusetts-- incentive to reform, post-release supervision, step downs, and sentence length; evidence-based reentry strategies—post-release supervision, transitional housing, employment services, substance abuse and mental health, and multiservice reentry; collateral sanctions and criminal records in Massachusetts; how much reentry programs can reduce recidivism; conditions of confinement and recidivism risk; state reentry efforts—comprehensive reentry models (in Minnesota, Michigan, and Maryland), and funding reentry initiatives (justice reinvestment in Arkansas, Hawaii, South Dakota, and pay-for-success financing—California, Massachusetts, New York, and Oklahoma); justice reinvestment and effective supervision; and a five-part reentry plan for reducing recidivism in Massachusetts.

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“One of the biggest challenges for drug courts is effectively working with participants with co-occurring disorders. By definition, persons with the dual diagnosis of both substance use disorders and mental illnesses have co-occurring disorders … every adult drug court can achieve positive outcomes for persons with co-occurring disorders—if the court is committed to doing so. With some creativity and thoughtful planning, most persons with co-occurring disorders can successfully participate in drug courts” (p. 1). This publication explains very clearly how to ensure this by utilizing six critical steps. Topics covered include: three treatment court models; the need for flexibility; overlapping populations; step 1—know who your participants are and what they need by using the quadrant model, screening, and assessment; step 2—adapt your court structure; step 3--expand your treatment options; step 4--target your case management and community supervision; step 5—expand mechanisms for collaboration; and step 6—educate your team.


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