Evidence Based Practice in community corrections, factors to consider when determining the best program

Evidence Based Practice in community corrections: factors to consider when determining the best program/practice in community corrections







In the past years, community corrections have continuously suffered from lack of information of reducing offender recidivism. Investigations conducted estimates that US corrections represent 25% of world’s prison population. These corrections currently holds over two million offenders. The costs of mass corrections in socio-economic terms have aroused legislative and scholarly concern. For instance, those convicted for long sentences pose collateral consequences such as failure to participate in fully in civic rights such as voting or employment. Further costs are those which involve operating the correction facilities. Several strategies such as cost-benefit analysis, specific clinical trials amongst others have reliably produced sustainable reductions in offender recidivism (Klingele, 2013). This paper highlights factors to consider when determining the best program in community corrections

Establishing best program in community corrections

The knowledge of the evidence based practice (EBP) is insufficient to enhance or even sustain a new way of running correction facilities. Therefore, agencies and systems should establish ways to adjust their organizational culture. Collaborations between the National Institute of corrections, Crime and Justice Institute and other partners developed an Integrated Model to facilitate effective implementation of evidence based practices in correction facilities. The model incorporates three components namely a) evidence based practice b) organizational development and c) collaboration between other components (Guevara & Solomon, 2009).

Various principles have been developed to determine the best program which should be applied in community corrections. However, aligning these principles with programs of correctional facilities face challenges hence requires careful planning. Most of the interventions do interlock and have a direct impact on recidivism. One of the factors that should be considered in establishing effective EBP is the actuarial risk assessment. The EBP should comprise a screening system with sufficiently and accurately written procedures, and focuses on dynamic and static risk factors and profile criminogenic needs. Staff should be well trained to administer the system in order to assess the offenders for effective management (Marie, 2008).

In addition correction officers and program staff should be equipped with motivational interviewing techniques. This will not only ensure that offenders and staff relate interpersonally, but also in sensitive constructive manner, thereby enhancing intrinsic motivation. Change of behavior is dynamic and is usually influenced by interpersonal relations with corrections officers and other institutional. Researches strongly embrace motivational interviewing principle over persuasion tactics for effective behavioral changes which is sustainable. Another factor to be considered for EBP involves skill train complimented with directed practice. This involves use of cognitive behavioral treatment techniques for successful EBP in community corrections. Staff should be trained to recognize the appropriate communication technique to use to offenders. Additionally, skills taught to the offender should be role-played to reinforce the resulting pro-social attitudes. Therefore, correctional facilities should prioritize and budget for such programs which have been scientifically been proven to significantly reduce recidivism (Marie, 2008).

Positive reinforcement tactic is another factor that should be considered before adopting any EBP. Human beings are known to respond better to maintain taught skill or even behavioral changes for a longer period of time when rewarded rather than when reproached. Behaviorists have encouraged for higher ratio of positive rather than negative reinforcement in order to achieve sustainable behavioral changes. However, this should not be done at the expense unacceptable behavior. Realigning the offender and regular pro-socio supports form their community is also very effective factor to modify behaviors. Therefore, community supports for offenders should be integrated in case planning in order to improve bonds and ties to pro-social community members. Regular assessment and documentation on behavior changes by the offender change should be conducted. Additionally, correction staff should be assessed in order to evaluate performance, and achieve greater conformity for interventions design and principles delivery. Once a technique to assess relevant processes has been achieved, the interventions should be monitored to indicate the feedback. Routine audits, regular case reviews and maintaining the staff focused on ultimate goal of reduced recidivism is very essential factor in establishing the best evidence based practice. This in turn builds accountability and maintains integrity, resulting to motivation for change and overall improved outcomes (Marie, 2008).

Other factor includes a) risk principle b) need principle c) responsibility principle and d) treatment principle. Other factors which should be considered for an efficient EBP includes a) identifying the goal (common vision) of the evidence based practice. The problem should be well outlined and the tasks involved well articulated to mutually achieve beneficial outcome. Strategies should be established for achieving the vision through having everyone engaged in order to find a common ground b) the purpose of the EBP is should be defined. The styles of leadership dictate the accomplishment of the interventions in corrections facilities. For instance, Coercive leadership requires immediate compliance whilst the authoritative leadership will mobilize individuals toward the set goal. Afflictive leaders develop harmonic and emotional bonds whilst democratic leadership demands consensus through participation. Pacesetting leadership requires excellence and self-direction whereas coaching leaders tends to develop for the future. Most successful EBP relies on multi- leadership styles (Guevara & Solomon, 2009).

All groups involved in developing the EBP should have agreement regarding strategies to achieve the attainable goals c) the roles and responsibility of each partner should be identified in order to bring effective collaborations d) principles should be defined focusing on strengths in order to acknowledge and validate ideas e) lastly, open and frequent communication between parties involved which strengthens the collaborative team bonds (Guevara & Solomon, 2009).

The EBP forms the foundation for effective service provisions and supervisions. The correction facilities should establish their missions and goals. They should also search for new knowledge and skill which will facilitate in adjusting their infrastructure to support the changes in running the correctional facilities. EBP involves a) developing corrections staff skills, attitudes and knowledge b) Implementing offender programming c) monitoring corrections staff actions and offenders programming to compare discrepancies d) attainability of verifiable outcome associated with the interventions. Embracing the integrated Model results to numerous rewards including a) efficient resource mobilization and utilization b) fosters responsible practices c) promotes accountability c)creates a learning environment for both corrections staff and offenders (Guevara & Solomon, 2009).

Rational used to determine best evidence based practice

University of Maryland Scientific methods score system is one of the rational used to assess the feasibility of evidence based practice. It is a scoring system which reveals on EBP which works and those which does not. The scoring is done from “1” to “5”. 1 is the least score and 5 being the strongest and maximum score. Another rationale that can be used to determine the best EBP is a meta-analysis. This is a systematic review which summarizes, integrates and interprets sets of scholarly research. This approach is best because it facilitates the researchers to aggregate the enormous empirical studies, enabling them to compare and examine the effect of the interventions. The scientific technique applies statistics as a unit of analysis (Hager and Johnsson, 2009).


Prison populations have terrifically increased nationally, making corrections take the larger proportions of local and state budgets. Therefore, it is jurisdictions role to determine whether the funds are wisely spent by focusing on correctional interventions adopted, their effectiveness or impact on later criminal behavior. In particular, there are concerns as to whether Correctional planning based on scientific interventions are effective in changing offenders

Evidently, the core components of an evidence based practice determine the impact the program has on sustaining reductions on recidivism. The framework of principles and factors discussed above should be operationalized by the individual case, agency and system involved. At these three levels, a comprehensive and strategic planning is required in order to succeed. The planning involves a) identifying b) prioritizing and c) formulating well- timed programs by addressing the issues and tasks which require system collaboration. Additionally, the aforementioned principles should be reflected in interventions policies and daily routine of correction agencies. The success of the EBP relies on the equilibrium between interventions and the enforcement. However, the principle cannot be put in place immediately. Therefore, each organization has a role to determine its pace of implementation appropriate to its resource availability and readiness. The implementation also requires huge investment in terms of people, time and finance.


Guevara, M., & Solomon, E., (2009) Implementing evidence based policy and practice in community corrections. Retrieved from HYPERLINK “http://static.nicic.gov/Library/024107.pdf” http://static.nicic.gov/Library/024107.pdf

Hager, P., & Johnsson, M, C., (2009) Working outside the comfort of competence in corrections centre: toward collective competence. Human Resource Development international Vol.12 (5)

Klingele, C., (2013) Criminal law: rethinking the use of community supervisions. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 103 (4)

Marie, M., (2008) Implementing evidence based practice in community corrections: the principle of effective interventions. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&noj=1&q=+Implementing+evidence+based+practice+in+community+corrections&oq=+Implementing+evidence+based+practice+in+community+corrections&gs_l=serp.12..35i39j0j0i22i30l8.39232.56406.0.61608.….0…1c.1.35.serp..28.10.1609.kjWapqDGi7E#

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