The remaining programs did not have a proven impact on recidivism and were not considered essential to re-entry or sentence completion. These low-priority programs included those focused on family support, certain types of job training programs, and personal development activities. The department identified 38 low- priority programs offered across its facilities. The inventory quantified what administrators and staff knew intrinsically: The sheer number of programs offered made consistent service delivery within and across facilities nearly impossible.
As a result, some evidence-based models were likely not operating as designed—and not generating outcomes as expected. The department decided to reduce the total number of programs offered to ensure effective implementation. The inventory also revealed that approximately half of current programs neither aided in recidivism reduction nor helped transition inmates to the community. To engage personnel in the process, administrators organized a number of working groups, identified supportive individuals who could be cultivated as advocates in the facilities, and provided frequent updates to staff.
The Economics of Private Prisons. Services on Demand Journal. Three different instruments assess psychological distress in the evaluated texts. Only three Brazilian studies 28 - 30 exclusively used the qualitative method in their research, by way of semi-structured interviews. In , a major influx of migrants from Central America led to an expansion of immigration detention under the Obama Administration. After this initial sort was complete, review teams turned to classifying the remaining 79 programs into three categories. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Fiocruz;
The process of identifying which programs to discontinue was challenging. Some proposals were more difficult to move forward than others, particularly when high-need populations or sensitive crimes were involved. In addition to gaining consensus around department goals, communication focused on time management: Staff were busy, but not always with programs that reduce recidivism.
Following these discussions, officials reassigned paid corrections employees to evidence-based and essential programs, and phased out or transitioned to volunteer-led any programs that did not contribute to the larger goal of recidivism reduction. Staff received extensive training in the program models that were selected. Overall, the department reduced the number of programs offered in its facilities from 79 to 45 between fiscal year and fiscal , as shown in Figure 2, and met its first objective. The substantial reduction in programs generated a mixed response from staff.
We needed to be more thoughtful with our resources and focus on recidivism reduction. The reduction in program options allowed leaders to tackle their second goal: investing staff time more strategically in interventions shown to be most effective at addressing a particular need within the population. For example, despite offering fewer distinct evidence-based programs, the Iowa prison system offered these interventions more frequently, increasing opportunities to access them.
Low-priority programs, also reduced in number, were offered much less frequently throughout the institutions and staffed with volunteers in lieu of paid corrections employees. See Figure 3.
This movement of resources can be monetized over time. This information has been useful to wardens, who often did not have such data organized in a single location, and has been incorporated into the annual reports of a number of facilities. For example, the North Central Correctional Facility used its fiscal annual report to highlight its discontinuation of Victim Impact an ineffective program and its plans to expand Thinking for a Change and Achieving Change Through Value-Based Behavior, two evidence-based programs.
The consolidation of programs, coupled with a sustained focus on allocating staff resources to evidence-based options to reduce recidivism, has motivated the department to develop a number of new policies and procedures to support consistent operations across facilities. Moving forward, the department anticipates that these improvements will pay dividends by increasing the likelihood that offenders will successfully return to the community and stay out of the corrections system.
With fewer programs in operation, the Iowa Department of Corrections is now able to focus on consistent and effective program implementation across facilities. Leaders in the department cited a number of issues with fidelity—the extent to which a program adheres to its original design—that affected their likelihood of achieving desired results. For example, a number of facilitators, though trained in a particular model, had adapted it based on their teaching style and their desire to make the curriculum more relatable to inmates.
In the past, these modifications either went unnoticed or were encouraged. To change this behavior, [we knew that] our new quality assurance process [would have to be] very intentional. The department has developed an internal fidelity monitoring device, known as the IOWA tool, that assesses program administration such as group size and facilitation such as the professional conduct of staff who lead classes. Quality control staff score each indicator on a scale from 1 to 4 and enter the results in a database, which sends facilitators a report on their strengths and areas for growth.
The tool has been piloted on a number of programs and garnered preliminary support from treatment staff. Before any new program can be implemented in a facility, staff must now submit a series of forms that specify the type of program being proposed, its impact on department resources, and the research basis for its effect on recidivism. In addition to this ongoing vetting, the agency plans to review ICON annually to ensure that the database continues to supply accurate program data.
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