Evidence Based Practices
What are Evidence-Based Practices?
Evidence-based practice is a significant development throughout human services that emphasizes outcomes. Interventions within community corrections are considered effective when they reduce offender risk and subsequent recidivism and therefore make a positive long-term contribution to public safety.
An evidence-based approach often, requires a client to confront and change his or her mindset and behaviors and can therefore be extremely challenging but worthwhile if the client does not go on to commit any future crimes. As a result it is the department’s goal that the client gains insight into his/her actions and behavior and learns new coping strategies which will deter them from reoffending.
To successfully deliver this treatment to offenders, staff must understand antisocial thinking, social learning, and appropriate communication techniques. Skills are not just taught to the offender, but are practiced and the resulting pro-social attitudes and behaviors are positively reinforced by staff. The Probation Department prioritizes, plans, and budgets to implement predominantly programs that have been demonstrated to reduce recidivism.
Eight Evidence-Based Principles
- Target Highest Risk Offenders. Correctional agencies should provide rehabilitation treatment programming to their highest risk to reoffend probationers. Provide other types of programs to low risk to reoffend probationers.
- Assess Offenders Needs. Correctional agencies should assess the criminogenic needs (six major risk factors: antisocial/ pro-criminal attitudes, values, and beliefs; pro-criminal associates; temperament and personality factors; a history of antisocial behavior; family factors; low levels of educational, vocational or financial achievement) of their offenders. The goal of programming should be to diminish needs.
- Design Responsivity into Programming. Programming should account for individual offender characteristics that interfere with or facilitate an offender’s ability and motivation to learn.
- Develop Behavior Management Plans. Individual programming should occur in the context of a larger behavior management plan developed for each offender (in Ohio we use the Ohio Risk Assessment System-ORAS).
- Deliver Treatment Programs using Cognitive-Based Strategies. Research has consistently determined that cognitive-behavioral treatments are more effective than any other form of correctional intervention because these treatment types address criminal thinking and behaviors in offenders.
- Motivate and Shape Offender Behaviors. Programming should include structure or capacity for rewarding positive behavior in addition to punishing negative behavior.
- Engender the Community as a Protective Factor Against Recidivism and Use the Community to Support Offender Reentry and Reintegration. Programming should involve the offender’s immediate family members and various agencies in the community to which the offender be returning. The state should empower the community—families, neighborhoods, and religious institutions, businesses—to reduce crime through deliberate efforts that assist offenders under correctional control and provide support to reduce criminal behavior.
- Identify Outcomes and Measure Progress. The system should use performance measures to evaluate progress and inform improvements.
These eight principles reinforce each other. Accordingly, the Probation Department recognizes that no single evidence-based intervention is guaranteed to succeed with all target populations, and certainly not in isolation. Helping clients make better choices and take advantage of opportunities is a complex process that depends on a variety of variables. We are constantly seeking out new and innovative policies and practices.