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Evidence-based practice

"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.

Reducing Recidivism in Massachusetts with a Comprehensive Strategy Cover

“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.

Growing empirical research finds that a correctional system devoted to punishment is ineffective and can produce criminogenic effects. As a result, justice organizations, including probation, are encouraging managers and staff to adopt evidence-based practices (EBPs), supported by scientific evidence, such as validated risk and needs assessments and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Implementation of EBPs falls heavily on street-level workers, such as probation officers (POs) as they implement policy, yet little attention examines whether and how EBPs align within the traditionally authoritarian justice environment. Using over 1,000 hr of observation and interview data with probation staff, the present study examines how probation staff understand and use EBPs. Findings indicate that probation staff continue to make discretionary decisions regarding whom they can use EBPs with and situations in which EBP use is appropriate. Findings have significant implications for the acceptability, feasibility, and transportability of EBPs in criminal justice environments.

“Employment is a key to community reintegration for both people with mental illness and those with justice involvement. At present, the empirical literature on employment services for justice-involved people with or without mental illness is meager. By contrast, an extensive evidence base documents the effectiveness of a specific employment model for people with severe mental illness: the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment” (p. 1). This publication covers: the IPS Model of Supported Employment; current trends in IPS services for justice-involved people; vocational programs for ex-offenders; and adaptations of IPS for justice-involved people.

Supported Employment for Justice-Involved People with Mental Illness Cover

The instrumental use of evidence-based research for influencing the passage of reform efforts affecting the juvenile justice system in Ohio is explained. “Many states across the country face the challenges posed by young people in the juvenile justice system. Ohio is among the few states that has created and implemented innovative funding strategies and relied on research and evaluation to improve its approach” (p. i). Sections following an executive summary are: introduction—case study as a learning tool and overview of partners and policy change with a focus on child well-being; leveraging the policy window—political climate, juvenile justice landscape in Ohio pre-reform and key stakeholders; juvenile justice as a compelling social problem—the role of policy research in making the case for reform; agenda-setting and framing solutions to “invest in what works”—using research to inform a policy reform plan; spheres of influence model—core team and collaborative strategy for juvenile justice policy reform; juvenile justice policies achieved within House Bill 86 reflect research-based, child development, and well-being perspective; and principles and implications for future policy reform efforts.

The Bridge to Somewhere: How Research Made its Way into Legislative Juvenile Justice Reform in Ohio: A Case Study|Revised [edition] Cover

This report explains why the current probation officer to supervisor ratio (7:1 span of control) should not be increased to a higher level due to significant impacts on the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in the Community Based Correctional System in Iowa. Span of control is “the number of individuals, or resources, that a person can effectively supervise within a structured organizational, business of military setting” (p. i). Sections of this report following an executive summary are: the importance of a low span of control in effective implementation of EBPs for probation and parole; findings on the impact of this low span of control; probation officer competencies; application of theoretical span of control factors to an EBP probation and parole environment; and conclusions and considerations.

The Importance of a Low Span of Control in Effective Implementation of Evidence Based Probation and Parole Practices Cover
Recognizing the importance of effective reentry practices at the federal, state, and local levels, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) co-sponsored the National Reentry Symposium: Promising Practices and Future Directions.Throughout the two-day session, federal and state representatives from each of the BOP’s six national regions met as teams to discuss methods to enhance federal and state collaborative efforts within their regions.The culmination of the Symposium was the development of regionally based reentry action plans designed to reduce the likelihood of recidivism through improved coordination and collaboration and the delivery of enhanced evidence-based programs and services. This report is a summary of that meeting. 
The Reentry of Formerly Incarcerated Persons Cover

The use of Strategy in Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS), a comprehensive model for community supervision, is discussed. Those individuals involved with community corrections and its increased effectiveness should read this article. It will explain how to transfer evidence-based practice into “real world” community supervision. Topics covered include: the emergence of the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model; the Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision—program design, implementation, and evaluation issues; and steps to bringing “what works” to the real world.

The Role of Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation in Evidence-Based 'Real World' Community Supervision Color

The application of the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model of offender rehabilitation to one-on-one supervision of offenders placed under probation is examined. This RNR-based training program is called the Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS). Sections of this report include: abstract; the RNR model of offender rehabilitation; the present study; method; results for the success of random assignment, length and content of session discussions, quality of probation officers’ skills and intervention techniques, recidivism, and clinical support; and discussion. “The results showed that the trained probation officers evidenced more of the RNR-based skills and that their clients had a lower recidivism rate” (p. ii).

The Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision: Risk-Need-Responsivity in the Real World Cover

Articles in this issue include:

  • “Foreword” by Ken Rose
  • “A Framework for Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Pretrial Services” by John Clark
  • “Advancing Evidence-Based Practices in the Pretrial Field” by Katie Green, Pat Smith, and Kristina Bryant
  • “Improving Pretrial Assessment and Supervision in Colorado” by Michael R. Jones and Sue Ferrere
  • “Pretrial Defendants: Are They Getting Too Much of a Good Thing?” by Barbara M. Hankey
  • “Charge Specialty and Revictimization of Defendants Charged with Domestic Violence Offenses” by Spurgeon Kennedy
  • “Pretrial Rearrests Among Domestic Violence Defendants in New York City” by Richard R. Peterson
Topics in Community Corrections, Annual Issue 2008: Applying Evidence-Based Practices in Pretrial Services Cover

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