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Using Quality Improvement Models in Correctional Organizations

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 77 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2013 Pages: 69-75
Danielle S. Rudes; Jill Viglione; Courtney M. Porter
Date Published
September 2013
7 pages
After reviewing the literature on quality improvement (QI) models designed to facilitate organizational change, this article presents evidence of one QI model's use in probation, followed by a discussion of theoretical and practical implications of using QI models within modern correctional organizations.
The Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) is a repetitive QI process derived from Total Quality Management (TQM)/Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). The PDSA process is similar to a "trial and learn" approach in which a hypothesis or suggested solution for improvement is implemented on a small-scale to test its impact before launching change throughout an entire organization. The PDSA model was used as a QI process in a criminal justice setting in a project called Justice Steps (JSTEPS), which was a multi-site research project that guided several problem solving courts and probation agencies through the implementation of an individualized contingency management (CM) protocol. CM is a behavior modification program that involves the use of gradual reinforcements and sanctions. Using the four-stage PDSA model, probation agencies teamed up with academic researchers throughout the change process. The JSTEPS PDSA model involved all levels of the probation organization in the change process, while creating a bridge between scholars and correctional staff. QI models offer a substantial improvement over current change models; however, researchers and correctional agencies must set the bar high for measuring QI model effectiveness and efficiency if they are to be used in implementing evidence-based practices. 1 table and 64 references