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Changing Systems, Changing Behavior: Five Ways Corrections Agencies Can Work to Reduce Recidivism

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2020
15 pages

This report highlights five emerging strategies that have guided efforts to implement an evidence-based approach to reducing recidivism and that can be adopted by any state or local corrections agency.


The report advises at the outset that the leadership and staff of all corrections agencies in a jurisdiction must collaborate in implementing the proposed strategies. One strategy focuses on establishing partnerships with key stakeholders and organizations. A second strategy features the use of data in 1) identifying factors that cause recidivism, 2) informing programming decisions, and 3) continuously monitoring progress in service implementation and effects. The third strategy described pertains to strengthening correctional culture to reduce recidivism, based on committed leadership and staff engagement. The fourth strategy involves the tailoring of offender supervision practices and programs to the findings of each individual’s risk and needs assessment. The fifth strategy discussed explains how to use outcome data to communicate policy and practice successes when informing state leaders of the need for continued program funding. Case studies are provided to illustrate how a particular corrections agency implemented each of the five strategies.