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Program Evaluation in the Context of Supervision Regime Change: Motivational Interviewing in Colorado

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 35 Issue: 5 Dated: 2018 Pages: 895-918
Date Published
24 pages

This paper describes an investigation of the effectiveness of an evidence-based counseling strategy used by Colorado parole officers, aimed at reducing parolee recidivism.


This paper assesses the effectiveness of an evidence-based counseling strategy employed by Colorado parole officers called Motivational Interviewing (MI), which aims to reduce parolee recidivism. The author employed a quasi-experimental research design in which the caseloads of MI-trained officers are divided into two sub-samples: parolees supervised before the achievement of MI certification and parolees supervised after certification. Regression analyses show that MI is associated with recidivism reduction, but this relationship would not have been revealed without accounting for a high-profile crime that interrupted the study period—the murder of the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections by a high-risk parolee that had absconded from supervision. This crime caused a public relations crisis for the parole agency, which responded by lowering tolerance for misconduct. This reduction in tolerance increased recidivism rates among parolees in Colorado, obscuring the effect of MI on parole outcomes. The authors also discuss theoretical and policy implications. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2018