This article reviews the findings and methodology of a NIJ-funded study conducted by the RAND Corporation and the University of Denver ("2012-R2-CX-0048"), which discusses and prioritizes innovations that address problems now facing the corrections sector.
The study first conducted a literature review on the challenges facing corrections, available technologies, and needs assessments. Researchers also received input from a corrections advisory panel, which was a group of 25 knowledgeable and experienced correctional professionals from across the Nation. The advisory panel prioritized approximately 200 needs based on a few selected measures. First, the needs were scored based on how they contributed to one or more correctional objectives. Needs that contributed to more important objectives were ranked higher. Next, panelists ranked each need across two dimensions: the probability that the need, if implemented, would effectively address the problem and the probability that the need would be broadly adopted by agencies. The measures were scored and the needs ranked in tiers. Some of the top-tier needs included risk-assessment needs; contraband-related needs involving the entrance of prohibited items into correctional facilities and their use by inmates; offender mental health needs; language differences between correctional staff and offenders they supervise; the release of higher risk offenders into the community to reduce jail and prison overcrowding; and the dedication of more resources to community-based agencies. The innovation agenda developed is intended as an initial step in the process of identifying the needs of the corrections community as viewed by criminal justice policymakers and practitioners.