Using a program of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections as a model, this article promotes partnerships between corrections departments and academic researchers in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of corrections programs.
When administrators for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) wanted an objective systematic review of the effectiveness of their drug and alcohol treatment programs, they contacted researchers at Temple University. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) realized four benefits from their use of outside researchers for evaluations. First, the use of independent researchers produced credible information on program performance. Second, the expertise needed to conduct sound evaluations is not typically available in-house. Third, no-cost research aids in determining which programs best fit offender needs. Fourth, critical independent feedback is provided for performance improvements. These benefits are derived from consultations between corrections administrators and researchers in planning the evaluation and analyzing the findings for lessons learned from both effective and ineffective outcomes. The employment of the researchers from Temple university was funded by an award from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to Temple University. When the partnership was formed between Temple University and the Pennsylvania DOC, a 14-member advisory committee was created to guide the work done under the partnership.
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