Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the application of science into operational practice for services and programs for offenders. The goal is to use practices that have been empirically tested and have been shown to reduce recidivism among offenders.
Based on numerous studies and meta analyses of offender rehabilitation programs, researchers have outlined a set of principles to guide the implementation of EBP.
The evidence-based principles for effective services and interventions with offenders are:
Conduct an assessment of offender risk and needs using an actuarial instrument and determine the drivers of criminal behavior;
Enhance intrinsic motivation through use of constructive communication techniques, such as motivational interviewing and goal setting;
Apply risk, need, and responsivity principles (i.e., target high-risk offenders, focus on changing criminogenic factors, provide services that match needs.) provide the appropriate dosage of services; and, deliver treatment and other services as part of the sentencing and sanctioning process;
Employ programs and practices grounded in scientific evidence (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy) and delivered by trained staff
Utilize community support networks to reinforce pro-social behaviors and help offenders establish prosocial contacts in the community
Routinely monitor and assess offender and staff performance
Pennsylvania Adult Probation and Parole Evidence-based Practices
Strategic Plan 2016-2018
The County Chief Adult Probation and Parole Officers Association of Pennsylvania is pleased to release its strategic plan for advancing Pennsylvania’s adult probation and parole system. The goal of the strategic plan is to enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, and provide for a more effective use of public fund through the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP) in the county adult probation and parole system. Our proposed strategic plan is the result of a dynamic partnership between the County Chief Adult Probation and Parole Officers Association of Pennsylvania and many key stakeholders in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.
With over 86% of the total community-based offender population under the supervision of county adult probation and parole departments, and the costs of managing offenders on the rise – with well over 50% of the funding of county offender supervision borne by the county – the restructuring and enhancement of county probation and parole is at a critical juncture. The implementation of effective, research-based supervision practices provides a roadmap to improve supervision strategies, which will lead to improved public safety.
During the strategic plan development stages, we were able to identify many challenges that could potentially pose roadblocks to the forward movement of this initiative. We prefer, however, to look at these challenges as stepping stones that will lead us to a more enhance system.
The strategic plan is the beginning of a multi-year effort to achieve better outcomes in community-based offender recidivism rates. We believe the strength of our strategic plan lies in the support and collaboration of county adult probation and parole partners and key state stakeholders.
Overview of the Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives
The leadership of the County Chief Adult Probation and Parole Officers Association of Pennsylvania, the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, County Commissioners Association of PA, Administrative Office of PA Courts, PA Department of Corrections PA Board of Probation and Parole, Office of the Victim Advocate, PA Commission on Sentencing, and other key stakeholders have agreed to partner together to develop a multi-phased action plan through which the Adult Probation and Parole Departments can acquire the necessary knowledge, tools, guidance, and support to effectively implement evidence-based practices (EBP) and programs throughout the Commonwealth.
Justice systems in general and probation and parole departments in particular have benefited from extensive research that provides clear and compelling direction on how to improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and decrease costs. Hundreds of jurisdictions across the United States have developed research-informed practices and justice system policies and programs, resulting in improved outcomes; however, resource and structural barriers have hampered the ability of many to harvest this knowledge in order to achieve what is possible. Pennsylvania County Adult Probation and Parole has struggled with caseloads exceeding national recommended caseload guidelines, inadequate funding, and the lack of an infrastructure to advance EBP and to advocate for its needs.
The goals and objectives of the action plan seek to enhance, over a three-year period, Pennsylvania County Adult Probation and Parole’s capacity to achieve its vision of public safety, reduced recidivism, and effective use of public funds. The following goals have been established:
Goal 1 – Establish the routine and effective use of actuarial assessments for purposes of pretrial and post-conviction placement and supervision, and for programming
Possible action steps include evaluating third-or fourth-generation risk/needs assessments and endorsing 2-3 specific well-supported tools; creating an assessment user’s manual’ providing technical assistance, training, and funding for these tools; norming the assessments on statewide and local populations; creating a pre-sentence investigation template that includes the risk/needs assessment information; and implementing a court-supported mechanism whereby Probation is given the authority to assign non-punitive programming informed by the risk/needs assessment in order to reduce and individual’s risk of recidivism.
Goal 2 – Develop an EBP Implementation Plan
Possible action steps include developing an EBP Roadmap that describes the fundamental EBP activities to be encouraged in all counties; providing guidance around workload standards by conducting time studies related to fundamental case supervision and EBP-related functions; establishing EBP symposiums or forums for stakeholders to orient them to Probation and Parole’s endorsement of evidence-based practices statewide; establishing a phased training plan rollout that supports models of EBP that can endorsed consistently throughout the state; developing a set of implementation strategies specific to rural counties; and determining if a case plan template that follows the justice-involved individual from pretrial to sentencing to local supervision to prison and then to reentry/parole can be adopted for statewide use.
Goal 3 – Establish with AOPC, CCAP, PCCD, DOC, and PBPP, a policy infrastructure and technical assistance resources to support the successful implementation of EBP at the local and state levels
Possible action steps include developing two or more “blueprint models” that identify implementation strategies for similarly situated justice system cohorts based on factors such as size of jurisdiction, stage of change readiness, geographic location, and current state of EBP implementation; assembling technical assistance resources to sustain the EBP Implementation Plan (e.g., adding a full-time EBP coordinator position, creating an implementation committee structure, developing a training delivery system, enlisting the services of a consultant); and establishing workload/caseload standard guidelines for counties looking to effectively implement evidence-based practices.
Goal 4 – Develop a funding plan to support and encourage the development, implementation, and ongoing confidence in the efficacy of evidence-based practices
Possible action steps include conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the EBP Implementation Plan using a phased-in approach, whereby counties implement EBP when they ae in a position to support in on an ongoing basis; devising a workload-based system of funding; identifying funding sources and a financial request plan to acquire the necessary resources to operationalize the EBP Implementation Plan; defining dashboard and performance measures to track EBP outcomes; and developing a long-term information systems plan to conduct cross-system data mining.
Goal 5 – Develop a plan to ensure victims of crime are empowered, informed, notified, and made whole to the degree possible
Possible action steps include creating a mechanism to assist victims with opportunities to provide input in their court case and/or justice system policies and practices; creating a process to notify victims in a timely manner of key events (e.g., violation, release dates, etc.); engaging restorative justice programming, including forming partnerships with local and state victims service agencies; creating a victim wraparound policy and procedure, and a domestic violence protocol; and advancing progressive restitution practices.
Goal 6 – Develop a comprehensive and diverse communication strategy
Possible action steps include identifying the various stakeholder groups and contact persons related to the EBP Implementation Plan; determining communication strategies to inform them of, and give them opportunities for ongoing input into, the EBP initiative; customizing the message and format of communication for each stakeholder group; and considering potential partnerships with communication experts.