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Conducting Randomized Controlled Trials in State Prisons

NCJ Number
254767
Date Published
Agencies
NIJ
Publication Type
Report
Annotation
This white paper presents an overview of the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) design as a program evaluation method, describes examples of RCT evaluations in both criminal justice generally and a state prison context specifically, and discusses considerations and challenges to be addressed when seeking to conduct an RCT evaluation in a state prison.
Abstract
State prisons nationwide house approximately 1,306,000 inmates, which is more than half of the total population of incarcerated individuals on any given day in the United States. Program evaluation is essential to ensuring that state prison systems adopt effective programs and policies. The “gold standard” methodology for evaluating outcomes of programs and policies is the randomized controlled trial (RCT). This white paper presents an overview of the RCT design as a program evaluation method, describes examples of RCT evaluations in both criminal justice generally and a state prison context specifically, and also discusses considerations and challenges to be addressed when seeking to conduct an RCT evaluation in a state prison.
Date Created: June 8, 2020