3 New BJA Solicitations

Here are 3 solicitations from the DOJ that may interest you

  • Justice Accountability Initiative (JAI): Pilot Projects Using Data-driven Systems To Reduce Crime and Recidivism
    Applications Due: July 30, 2018
  • Justice Accountability Initiative: National Training and Technical Assistance to support pilot projects using data-driven systems to reduce crime and recidivism
    Applications Due: July 30, 2018
  • Supporting Innovation: Field-Initiated Programs to Improve Officer and Public Safety
    Applications Due: July 30, 2018
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Second Chance Act in Action: A Case Study of Evidence-Based Approaches and a Researcher-Practitioner Partnership

  • David L. Myers, PhD, University of New Haven
  • Daniel R. Lee, PhD, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Dennis M. Giever, PhD, New Mexico State University 


This issue of EBP Quarterly presents a second-year implementation and evaluation report for the Somerset County Day Reporting Center. This report, and the corresponding appendices, present a case study of an SCA funded initiative that is utilizing various evidence-based approaches and evaluating process and behavioral outcomes through a researcher-practitioner partnership. This report illustrates many of the key findings uncovered in larger-scale SCA research, but also provides practical examples of program policies and procedures, strategic and action planning, organizational assessment, use of motivational interviewing, monitoring implementation, and assessing program performance. The importance of prior research findings, collaborative leadership, program fidelity, and data-driven decision-making also is presented in this report.

We hope you find this report and the corresponding documents useful as you consider the use of evidence-based approaches in your own agency. Links to the appendices follow below.

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Incorporating Surveys to Improve Police-Community Partnerships


George M. Froggé, Austin Peay State University 


In some cities, there is a strain on the relationships between the police and the communities they serve.  The use of effective communication is one key to improving police-community rapport.  These partnerships are the foundation for community policing. The implementation of police-community surveys are productive research tools for creating stronger partnerships. This paper will discuss several types of survey methods to improve police-community partnerships.

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Sex Offender Risk, Recidivism, and Policy


Kristi L. Greenberg University of New Haven

Sex offenders and their rates of recidivism are often at the center of media and legislators’ attention, in efforts to maintain public safety from what are perceived by many to be the most heinous of offenders. As a result, sex offender management, civil confinement, community notification, and registration laws have been enacted in many jurisdictions across the globe. These policies stem from “good intentions to enhance public safety, [but] current punitive-oriented policies targeting sex offenders have been shown to yield null effects on sex offender recidivism” (Manchak and Fisher, 2017, p. 2). This, coupled with the myriad of challenges registered sex offenders (RSOs) face because of their public label, amounts to a disservice for offenders and victims. Socia (2014) highlights this by noting that “criminal justice scholars have been skeptical of the utility of residence restrictions for some time because study after study has suggested that these policies are ineffective and may be resulting in collateral consequences for both RSOs and community members” (p. 179). It therefore becomes imperative to examine what is known about sex offender recidivism, risk assessment, and the factors influencing sex offender policies.

This paper discusses the employment and housing barriers faced by RSOs, and how those barriers impact public safety. Current research that examines RSO risk levels, how they are obtained, and how they are managed is reviewed. The position that research indicates current sex offender policy, albeit effective at identifying high-risk individuals, is highly ineffective at aiding successful reintegration is supported. These policy gaps create unsafe communities and force some RSOs to commit non-sexual crimes to survive their new environments.

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Reentry Courts: A Critique of Implementation and Theoretical Design


Jacob Hasson University of New Haven

The United States’ criminal justice system is in the process of rebounding from punitive policies, known as the “get tough movement,” which led to unprecedented growth in prison populations and associated fiscal costs. As of 2015, 2.2 million people were housed in US prisons and jails (The Sentencing Project, 2015). With the average inmate costing approximately $31,000 per year, states are looking to relieve themselves of these excessive costs and are attempting to find cost-effective alternatives to incarceration (Vera Institute of Justice, 2012).

One such approach garnering much attention by researchers and practitioners alike is the utilization of reentry courts for inmates returning to the community after incarceration. Reentry courts began in 1999, through funding by the US Department of Justice and were modeled after drug courts. Their purpose is to reduce recidivism and technical violations by providing oversight and assistance to inmates as they transition into the community (Ndrecka et al., 2017). If implemented correctly, reentry courts can work with clients and mitigate their risk of recidivism during a time when they are at the highest risk of reoffending. This, in turn, could decrease recidivism rates and overall prison populations.

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Employment and Recidivism


Tianyin Yu, University of New Haven

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 67.8% of released state prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and 76.7% were arrested within five years (Durose, Cooper, & Snyder, 2014). Reducing recidivism not only protects society at large, but also improves the life quality of individual ex-prisoners. Employment has long been recognized as having a negative correlation with crime (Uggen, 1999; Uggen et al., 2005). However, ex-prisoners face tremendous difficulties in obtaining employment opportunities post-release. Such a disadvantaged situation may be attributable to multiple reasons. First, most of the offenders may simply lack the necessary job skills for specific positions, keeping them from those usually higher paid and more stable jobs. Second, many employers are reluctant to hire these people due to the stigma imposed by their previous criminal records.

This review aims to explore the general effect of employment on recidivism, the gender effect of employment on recidivism, and the role of job characteristics play in deterring crime, as well as to examine how incarceration may affect ex-prisoners in their pursuit of jobs. Policy implications based on the extant research and future research directions also will be discussed.

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Youth Mentoring: Integrating Theory, Research, and Practice


David L. Myers, PhD University of New Haven

In recent decades, youth mentoring has experienced tremendous growth throughout the United States. Available estimates place the current number of youth mentoring programs at more than 5,000 nationwide, with approximately 3 million children and adolescents receiving services (DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn, & Valentine, 2011; Miller, Barnes, Miller, & McKinnon, 2013; Stewart & Openshaw, 2014; Tolan, Henry, Schoeny, Lovegrove, & Nichols, 2014). Political and public support have contributed to approximately 1 in 3 adults reporting they have participated in some form of mentoring, and around $100 million per year in federal funds are dedicated to youth mentoring programs and research (Stewart & Openshaw, 2014; Tolan et al., 2014). Overall, youth mentoring is perhaps the most widely implemented and financially supported prevention and intervention strategy for at-risk youth in America. 

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The Use of Gay & Straight Alliances in Reducing Illicit Drug Use and Prescription Drug Misuse among LGBT Adolescents


Tim Daty University of New Haven

Gay & Straight Alliances (GSA) are school sanctioned student organizations that incorporate heterosexual students, homosexual students and adult participation. These organizations potentially ease the hardships that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) youth encounter, change negative perceptions surrounding homosexuality, and support these youths in their pursuit of positive outcomes. Research consistently suggests that social connectedness and positive support are at the root of drug abuse among LGBT youth (Hatzenbuehler, Jun, Corliss, & Austin, 2015; Heck et al., 2014; Kecojevic et al., 2012; Bird, Kuhns, & Garofalo, 2012). In the absence of social support and positive relationships, LGBT youth seek coping mechanisms such as illicit and prescription drugs as a way of alleviating this stress. However, schools with a GSA have reported better personal and health outcomes among their LGBT populations. More specifically, the incidence of illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse among gay adolescents is lower among these schools. Gay & Straight Alliances (GSA) seek to offer positive reinforcement to gay youth, reduce strain and make students less likely to seek coping mechanisms such as illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse. 

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Focused Deterrence Interventions: A Critical Review


Joseph Dule University of New Haven

Boston pioneered a focused deterrence strategy in the 1990s, to reduce high rates of youth and gang violence. Initially, Boston’s “Operation Ceasefire” working group conducted problem analysis. This research revealed approximately 60% of Boston homicides were gang related, and that both the perpetrators and victims of violence were highly criminal—i.e., they possessed criminal records and were typically known (often by-name) by the Boston Police Department (BPD).  Accordingly, the intervention aimed to “communicate incentives and disincentives directly to known high risk chronic offenders” (Corsaro & Engel, 2015).  To accomplish this, BPD conducted “call in” sessions with chronic offenders—often those who were out on parole—to make them aware that violence would not be tolerated (Kennedy et al., 2001).  The BPD message was simple: if you commit violence, then every legal lever possible will be pulled to ensure that you will be held accountable.  Further, not only will violence not be tolerated, but if one person in the group commits violence, then “heat” from the BPD will be brought on to the entire group (Kennedy, 2011). 

Read more: Focused Deterrence Interventions: A Critical Review

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Examining Dog-Training Programs in Prison: Success Found Among Confounding Factors

prison dog-training

Kevin Earl University of New Haven

Dogs have great therapeutic power. It is easy to think of anecdotal evidence of this being true. In day-to-day life, dog owners are able to decompress after a long day at work or are simply able to feel unconditional love from them. Dogs are able to provide services for disabled individuals. Dogs can become certified specifically to help individuals cope with loss or depression. Dogs can even predict ill health and help individuals recover from ill health (Sachs-Ericsson, Hansen, and Fitzgerald; Wells, 2007). In consideration of all the benefits of having a dog in one’s life, the question one must ask is: can prisoners benefit from dogs as well?

This paper examines dog-training programs in the prison setting with regard to their ability to achieve their goals and objectives related to recidivism. Dog-training programs (DTPs) are the most common type of prison-based animal program, with 290 facilities across all 50 states having implemented them (Cooke and Farrington, 2016). The goals and objectives of DTPs vary slightly from program-to-program; however, the main focuses are recidivism and behavior in prison. DTPs teach prisoners to be dog trainers as a means of providing a source of rehabilitation to combat recidivism. Through this examination, the author concludes that DTPs are successful in that they achieve desired results. Criminological theories as well as limitations of evaluations performed on these programs that explain this success are discussed.

Continue reading about prison dog training programsExamining Dog-Training Programs in Prison: Success Found Among Confounding Factors

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