This document reports on a study that evaluated the Restoring Promise program’s effects on violence and misconduct among young adults in a large and challenging correctional system as well as its applicability to other correctional environments, including rural and urban settings, jails and prisons, and facilities housing men and women.
This report presents the results of a rigorous evaluation of Restoring Promise, which is an initiative that creates prison housing units grounded in human dignity for young adults, ages 18 to 25, that operate with re-trained staff, trained mentors who are older adults serving long- or life-sentences, and developmentally appropriate activities, workshops, and opportunities for young adults. The evaluation reflects two studies: the first is a study of Restoring Promise in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and the second is a study of Restoring Promise across five housing units in partnership with three corrections agencies. The first study utilizes a randomized controlled trial (RTC) to understand whether and by how much Restoring Promise reduces young adults’ incidences of violence and misconduct, comparing outcomes for two groups of young adults who applied to live on a Restoring Promise housing unit. The second study of Restoring Promise across the five housing units uses latent class analysis (LCA) to compare responses to the Restoring Promise Prison Culture Survey (PCS) from young adults incarcerated in three different corrections agencies, living across five Restoring Process housing units in Connecticut, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. The process of conducting this research provided insights into running an effective and rigorous RCT in a correctional setting. The finding that changing the prison culture led to a reduction in violence fills a gap in the field and provides evidence to support a new, replicable model for improving safety in correctional settings. Findings showed that the results of the RCT are potentially applicable to all young adults; the approach that Restoring Promise uses has several fundamental components that are consistent across locations; and young adults and staff report similarly positive experiences, regardless of location, due to prison culture changes.