|Roadmap for Evidence-Based Practices in Community Corrections|
|By Commonwealth of Virginia:|
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Commonwealth of Virginia's Roadmap for Evidence-Based Practices in Community Corrections
In recent years, community corrections agencies across Virginia have been modifying their practices to be consistent with evidence‐based practices (EBP). The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DJCS) and the Virginia Community Criminal Justice Association (VCCJA) have worked assiduously toward the goal of having all local probation and pretrial agencies become evidence‐based and contribute to improved public safety in Virginia. The Roadmap is a guide for the sustainable implementation and replication of evidence‐based practices in pretrial and local probation agencies across the state.
Evidence‐based agencies know the risk and needs of the clients they serve through the use of validated screening and assessment tools, and they address these issues using the best research and evidence available. They use data to guide decisions and continually improve their services. Becoming evidencebased is a challenging endeavor. This Roadmap provides guidance to agencies that would like to become or continue to be evidence‐based. The Roadmap demonstrates how to make the transformation to an evidence‐based organization. Inside, the Roadmap offers guidance on how to plan for and manage change; how to use data to demonstrate your agency’s effectiveness; how to work collaboratively with community stakeholders as part of a systemic effort to reduce recidivism and improve public safety; how to align your organization with what it is trying to achieve; and much more.
The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) was contracted by the DCJS, in conjunction with VCCJA, to construct this Roadmap for the implementation of evidence‐based practices across the state. As part of this effort, CJI first conducted a retrospective study to review progress and benchmarks achieved across ten local probation and pretrial pilot sites in the areas of EBP, organizational development and collaboration (the components of CJI and the National Institute of Correction’s Integrated Model). The findings of the retrospective study guided the development of this Roadmap for DCJS and VCCJA. This Roadmap is the result of findings and lessons learned from phase one implementation sites in Virginia, suggestions from phase one and two sites, and CJI’s EBP implementation work throughout the nation. The Roadmap offers valuable insights into lessons learned during implementation and provides proven strategies for addressing challenges to sustainable change.
The Roadmap is organized into the following sections:
In addition to agency directors and project managers, members of the working group(s) either within the local agencies or at the state level who are involved in the EBP implementation effort will find the Roadmap contents useful. The Roadmap can also be useful to anyone who wants to learn more about becoming evidence‐based. Stakeholders in Virginia such as local Community Criminal Justice Boards1 (CCJB’s), legislators, the judiciary, county executives, executive branch agencies, other law enforcement agencies, victims’ agencies, concerned citizens, or anyone else interested can use this Roadmap to understand what local systems can do to improve public safety.
This is not a process that happens overnight, nor is it a simple endeavor. Agencies that make this transformation will make their communities safer and they will have the evidence to demonstrate their contributions. They will also have partners in their communities working with them. In addition, these agencies will be well‐suited to adapt and shift on the basis of evidence as it evolves.
The road to becoming an evidence‐based organization is challenging, yet rewarding. There are numerous moving parts that will need attention, and many obstacles along the way. Ultimately, this effort is a transformative change, and that change is made using research and evidence as your compass.
To be successful, your agency must understand what it means to be evidence‐based. You must identify what you want to achieve, and measure progress toward those outcomes. Through a strategic approach, your agency can coordinate the various interrelated and often complex tasks that lead to the desired impact. Through the use of quality assurance and evaluation, you can ensure fidelity to evidence‐based approaches, encourage the development of new evidence‐based practice, and provide employees ongoing opportunities for growth and development.
Along the way there will be times that try agency leadership, employees and stakeholders. Doing business in new ways is difficult for many reasons. Often these reasons are less about the changes themselves and more about the process of change itself. It takes a well‐planned and collaborative effort to work together toward a common goal such as recidivism reduction.
In Virginia, deliberate and thoughtful steps have been taken to implement EBP. VCCJA and DCJS are clearly committed to reducing recidivism and have worked very hard toward this end. The EBP Steering Committee has put an enormous amount of effort into integrating EBP into community corrections practice. Sites that have begun their trip toward becoming evidence‐based can attest to the challenges and time associated with making it happen. The journey can also be very rewarding and inspiring. While the voyage is not easy, it is important to remember that each step along the way offers an opportunity to further the field of community corrections and contribute to improvements in public safety and community well‐being.
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