Evidence-Based Corrections: Entry Points

Evidence-Based Practice in Corrections: Entry Points for Improvement in Case-Based Decisions


American Correctional Association

It is virtually impossible to review current correctional policy or practice guidelines without seeing the term “evidence-based practice” (EBP) prominently displayed. EBP is the body of research and replicable clinical knowledge that describes state-of-the-art correctional assessment, programming and supervision strategies leading to improved correctional outcomes such as the rehabilitation of offenders and increased public safety. As such, it has become the mantra for correctional agencies that wish to indicate that they provide contemporary and effective services.

As a caution, it is one thing to say one follows EBP but it is another to demonstrate this; quality assurance reviews with the Correctional Program Assessment Inventory suggest correctional agencies are more optimistic about their claims than is independently the case. Nonetheless, correctional agencies have made considerable strides regarding practice and this is reflected in reductions in recidivism through both improved programming models and training in core correctional practice. This paper attempts to extend this encouraging work by highlighting several examples of new research that should augment existing EBP by providing refinements in terms of theory, assessment and case supervision that will lead to improved decisions at the individual case level.

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