Monday, February 28, 2011
That title ought to get some unexpected Google hits. For those looking for interesting pieces on substance abuse and ways to deal with it successfully, click on this link to articles on the problems that occur when we send abusers back to their original communities (like things will be different now), on the dangers of “one size fits all” type dogmas about addiction and how to treat it, how low frontal lobe activity in abusers helps them overestimate their ability to kick habits, on finding good treatment programs for teen substance abusers, and on what Charlie Sheen says about drug abuse, as if you needed more of Charlie Sheen.
Friday, February 25, 2011
What Works? And Cost-Effectiveness in Tough Budget Times
Article here on a general “What Works?” website with ideas to help focus on how to retain effectiveness with reduced funding in these tough fiscal times. Here are some of the basic questions to ask, but you need the details at the link:
- What goals across government is the program contributing to?
- What impact does the program have on achieving those goals?
- Does the program work well with other programs to maximize impact and minimize duplication?
- How cost effective is the program compared to others?
- Is the program well run? Have there been delays or cost overruns?
- Does the program learn from experience and improve in response?
Alzheimer’s and Diagnoses
Turns out some of the cases diagnosed as Alzheimer’s really are other illnesses. Why is this important to corrections? Well, go check the fastest growing age group in your prison population, figure out the costs, and get back to us.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
This Week at NCJRS
The usual great research abstracts over at theNational Criminal Justice Reference Service this week. Here are a few tempters, but click the link to get the one we knew you really wanted but decided to leave off just so you’d have to click the link.
Construct and Predictive Validity of Criminal Thinking Scales
Comparison of Static and Dynamic Assessment of Sexual Offender Risk and Need in a Treatment Context
Correlates and Actuarial Models of Assaultive Prison Misconduct Among Violence-Predicted Capital Offenders
It's About Time: Aging Prisoners, Increasing Costs, and Geriatric Release
Self-Injurious Behaviors in State Prisons: Findings From a National Survey
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
OOOMMMMMMM . . . .
Another story on that Alabama prison attempting to use meditation to calm the savage beast within inmates. As quick as we might be to scoff, the story describes the author’s pleasure to find the program has some hope to it, as does a Stephen Covey “habits of effective people” program in Colorado, which actually may have some supportive data. In any case, his point that, given the importance of rehab in general and especially when budgets can’t afford recidivists, maybe we shouldn’t turn our backs on “outside the box” ideas like these certainly needs to be considered. But if anyone starts wanting to teach inmates mime, all bets are off.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
How Not to Do Early Release
Story here on Illinois’ recent debacle during an early release program, spelling out the familiar details of bureaucratic miscommunications and very poor understanding and coverage of what happened by the state media. Those who remember Oklahoma’s own problems with early release in the 1990s will just nod their heads while those unfamiliar will need to take heed. The story actually does do a good job describing that the release itself was not performed badly, just the communications and the follow-up after hooey hit fan. But it also messes up the major point of the whole thing, which was that, despite the media-fed hysteria following the rearrest of a very few of the releasees, as if some rearrest couldn’t be expected and with absolutely no comparison with releasees who got out at their regular time as a control group, the new arrests and convictions made up only a small part of the total and, of those, only 13% (you’ll have to do the math yourself) of that small part of the total were later convicted of anything. This is the big problem that we have with coverage of basically anything in correctional programming and policy, fundamental failure to just “do the math.” The result? Illinois lost an effective program and its prison populations are expanding again. Again, lessons to be learned for the rest of us. Go read even if you don’t need to learn them.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
♪ ♪. . . Just Another Furlough Friday . . . ♪ ♪
No posts tomorrow as the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will be closed for the most part for a furlough day to offset the budget cuts it took for FY 2011. And with the Presidents’ Day holiday Monday, it will be Tuesday before we’re back. Try not to be too traumatized and enjoy your weekend.
A friend passes along the notice below for those of you interested in learning more about and maybe even doing program cost-benefit analysis so take note, please.
Register Now for Web-Based Training on Estimating Marginal Costs
Estimating Marginal Costs for Cost-Benefit Analysis in Criminal Justice: What You Need to Know
Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Duration: 1 hour
Host: Vera Institute of Justice
How much will a new program or policy cost? How much will it save? These questions are often on the minds of policymakers considering new initiatives. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis can help answer these questions, but it requires that you know how to estimate the marginal costs of government operations. Marginal costs differ in important ways from the more commonly used average costs and represent a more accurate measure of the economic impact of new initiatives.
This practical, web-based training will give you the resources you need to estimate marginal costs. During the session, presenters will define marginal costs, discuss their role in cost-benefit analysis and other economic assessments, and describe several methods used to estimate them. They will also share tips on finding the necessary data and ensuring the accuracy of the estimates.
This training will be led by Christian Henrichson, Senior Policy Analyst, and Valerie Levshin, Policy Analyst, from the Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit at the Vera Institute of Justice.
This FREE web-based training is ideally suited for staff at sentencing commissions, statistical analysis centers, research institutions, government budget agencies, and legislative offices.
The training is sponsored by the BJA-funded Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB), a project of theVera Institute of Justice. For more information about cost-benefit analysis and to register for alerts about future webinars and other resources from CBKB, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register, please go to: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/schedule/display.do?udc=h8tigtq8vblh
This Week at NCJRS
Fill your holiday weekend with some interesting research abstracts over at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Here are a few titles but you know you have to click on the link to get all the goodies, like those mice in those psych experiments.
First-Time and Recurrent Inmates’ Experiences of Imprisonment
Examining the Predictors of Recidivism Among Men and Women Released From Prison in Ohio
Electronic Supervision and the Importance of Evidence-Based Practices
Supervision of Sex Offenders: A Multi-Faceted and Collaborative Approach
Relationship of Organizational Citizenship Behavior with Job Satisfaction, Turnover Intent, Life Satisfaction, and Burnout Among Correctional Staff
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
And a Nickel Is More Than a Dime
Consider the implications for juries, judges and prosecutors, inmates and probationers, everyone in a criminal justice system that does everything in 6’s, oh, heck, just for democracy in general, of the research noted by this headline:
Many Consumers Believe 36 Months Is Longer Than 3 Years
Then go read the details.
Apparently the “Consumers” Above Haven’t Been Taking the X
New Study Finds No Cognitive Impairment Among Ecstasy Users
River of Addiction
Good book review here of a substance abuser’s details of his addicted life and (current) recovery. Here’s a bit to get you to read the review, which will likely get you to get the book, too.
“Throughout his descents into hard drug use, his ups and downs along the alcoholic’s rehab trail, Brown remains a fierce observer of his own behavior, and, heartbreakingly, its effect on those around him: “Worrying, damaging, terrorizing those closest to us, intentionally or not, is what alcoholics, addicts, and the mentally ill do best.” As was true of “The L.A. Diaries,” Brown writes in a spare, direct, unflinching style—a bracing antidote to the Stuart Smalleys of the world. His observations on A.A., anti-craving medications, and antipsychotic drugs are those of a man unwilling to let prior prejudices and built-in excuses deter him from a search for the true nuts and bolts of his condition.”
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Title of this blogpost that describes in nice detail and with diverse examples how the emphasis on data and evidence-based practice may not turn out exactly the way everyone is told. For example, the COMSTAT problems that NY City has had once police managers realized they actually were held accountable for their activities through statistics and that they might be able to look more impressive by monkeying with the numbers than performing the activities. Happens with things like school testing, too (yes, you’re shocked, simply shocked!!). In the end, the effect is to discredit even professional and well-done data use and analysis, which could possibly even be the goal. A couple of excerpts below to get you to go read the whole thing:
“But this comes with a problem. The problem is that we do not currently collect and scrub good enough data to support this recent fascination with numbers, and on top of that our brains are not wired to understand data. And if you have a lot riding on bad data that is poorly understood, then people will distort the data or find other ways to game the system to their advantage. . . .
. . . In general, I think the current trend toward using more and more data is a good thing. I mean, what’s the alternative: gut intuition? But this only increases the importance of having good data to begin with. And when some parties benefit from bad data, this can be a big challenge with no easy solution.”
This May Be the Best “Tough on Crime” Weapon We Have
Pot Use May Mellow Out Men's Sexual Function
Click here for the story.
♪ ♪. . . just a spoonful of sugar . . . ♪ ♪
Or at least a handful of M&M’s maybe. Turns out that the candy bowl may be one of the best drug treatment tools we have:
“The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland. It focused on the effects of Naltrexone, an alcohol treatment drug that blocks the brain’s opioid receptors and is effective in about 78 percent of individuals. Alcoholics in treatment using Naltrexone who had a preference for sugar solutions were found to be less likely to relapse back to drinking.”
Monday, February 14, 2011
A couple of quick hits here on substance abuse data and research to keep you paying attention as you start your week. This one notes that alcohol, a legal substance to abuse, kills more people globally than AIDS, tuberculosis, and violence. How’s that for a Happy Valentine’s Day?? And this one alerts us that ADHD kids are statistically more likely to develop substance abuse problems when they grow up. No mention of whether that has anything to do with their medications being just a molecule or two different than cocaine . . . .
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Fighting Off Snow-maggedon
Neither rain, nor snow, nor . . . other stuff can keep us from our appointed rounds at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. So enjoy the following links because you know what tomorrow is . . .
♪ . . . Just Another Furlough Friday . . . ♪
No posts tomorrow as the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will be closed for the most part for a furlough day to offset the budget cuts it took for FY 2011. Back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.
There’s a Reason They Stare at You
Turns out that babies come pre-wired to recognize right and wrong, fair and unfair, at least according to this study. Even to deny rewards to transgressors, which sounds like judgment and sentencing to us. Something policymakers may want to remember if/when they try to reduce transgression relief simply to their immediate costs and benefits.
There’s Law-Abiding and Then There’s . . . .
“Police in Ohio can't take too much credit for stopping a woman they say was drinking and driving _ they say she pulled herself over.
Officers in the Lake Erie town of Sandusky say the woman stopped because she thought she saw police lights, but it turns out the flashing lights were from a skating rink sign.
The Sandusky Register reports that the woman's car got stuck in a snowbank near the sign when she stopped early Monday and another motorist called police.
Officers say they took 27-year-old Nicole Scott to jail on charges of operating a vehicle under the influence. Police say Scott denied she had been driving. . . .”
Click here for the full story.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Snow-maggedon II Awaits!!!
Sounds like a movie title, right? Only, it actually refers to another snow event that, if it’s like the one last week, will shut down our posting again for a couple of days, followed by a regularly scheduled department furlough day on Friday. So, if we don’t pop up with anything new for the next few days, don’t cry more than necessary. We should be back on Monday and everything will be all right with the world.
This Week at NCJRS
Given the possibility of snowed-out posting, we’ll go ahead and clue you into the latest research abstracts available at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service this week a little earlier than usual. Here are a few titles to tempt, but you should hit the link to be sure of getting all the ones you might be interested in.
Recognizing Perspectives on Community Reentry From Offenders with Mental Illness: Using the Afrocentric Framework and Concept Mapping with Adult Detainees
Improving the Health of Minority Communities through Probation-Public Health Collaborations: An Application of the Epidemiological Criminology Framework
Violence Exposure and Health-Related Risk Among African American Adolescent Female Detainees: A Strategy for Reducing Recidivism
Perceived Positive Aspects of Intimate Relationships Among Abused Women in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs (MMTP)
Criminal Offending Among Respondents to Protective Orders: Crime Types and Patterns That Predict Victim Risk
More Attention to What We Do
A couple of national reports out now focusing on incarceration and what to do to minimize it with the least negative and most positive impact on public safety. The American Prospect has a full issue with articles on the topic and the Council of State Governments has a new report that a kind reader tipped us off to:
“The full report can be accessed at http://www.justicereinvestment.org/summit/report.
Contact: Robert Coombs, email@example.com
February 8, 2011
For Immediate Release
CONGRESSMAN WOLF ANNOUNCES NEW REPORT ON BIPARTISAN APPROACHES TO REDUCING CRIME, RECIDIVISM AND CORRECTIONS COSTS
Washington, D.C.—Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) was joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today to highlight the challenges facing the nation's corrections and criminal justice system and to unveil a new report from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center offering proven strategies to increase public safety, reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars.
As states are forced to bring spending in line with revenue, spending on corrections—one of the fastest growing line items in state budgets, totaling more than $50 billion annually—is also being scaled back. Many have cautioned that these fiscal pressures could spur haphazard policy decisions that negatively impact public safety.
“Quick fixes can have dangerous consequences,” Chairman Wolf warned. “To increase public safety in this austere budget environment, we must support cost-effective efforts by states that are grounded in the ‘best practices’ and draw on the latest innovations from public corrections and the faith-based community.”
The report released today highlights such innovation and research, focusing on four fundamental strategies for developing cost-effective corrections policies that can reduce recidivism:
1. Focus resources on individuals most likely to reoffend
2. Base programs on research and ensure quality
3. Implement effective community supervision policies and practices
4. Apply place-based strategies
The report is based on a 2010 summit requested by the U.S. House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee to bring together the nation?s leading corrections and criminal justice experts, researchers and practitioners. The summit was convened by the CSG Justice Center in partnership with the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Center on the States; the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice; and the Public Welfare Foundation.
“For many years, reducing recidivism seemed nearly impossible. Now, many states are starting to turn a corner through commonsense and cost-effective reforms. We need to see more states tailor the kind of smart strategies that the jurisdictions profiled in this report have implemented,” said Wolf.
To determine how to apply these strategies to their criminal justice system, several states have used a justice reinvestment approach. Such an approach involves working across party lines, conducting exhaustive analyses of state and local data, developing strategies to reduce corrections spending and reinvesting some of those savings in efforts that can increase public safety, and then monitor their efforts.
“As states look for ways to reduce budgets, this report can provide a blueprint on how to implement corrections strategies in a more efficient and productive way,” said Senator Whitehouse, who plans to introduce legislation this year to create justice reinvestment grants for state and county governments. “Following this blueprint will help protect public safety and reduce costs.”
Senator Cornyn said, “These strategies helped my home state of Texas save nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and identify and improve existing treatment, mental health and diversion programs that led to significant reductions in probationers' and parolees' being returned to prison,” said Senator Cornyn. “This report tells the story of other states that, like Texas, have been able to reduce crime and save money. This is the roadmap to the better outcomes that we?ve been seeking.”
Around the country, policymakers have been calling for innovative approaches in corrections, including many conservative leaders. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recognized the approach as commonsense: “It's time to end business as usual in our prison system and for legislators to think and act with courage and creativity. We can make sensible and proven reforms to our criminal justice system policies that will cut prison costs while keeping the public safe.”
State Rep. Pat Colloton (R-KS), who is vice-chair of the CSG Justice Center Board of Directors, observed, “Funding made available by Congress has enabled state and local governments across the country to innovate and test different programs and policies that make our communities safer and save money. Today, the CSG Justice Center releases a report that distills the lessons learned from these innovations into strategies that can be adopted everywhere.”
The CSG Justice Center's Justice Reinvestment Initiative to address corrections spending and public safety is a partnership with the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Center on the States and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. These efforts have provided similar data-driven analyses and policy options to leaders in 14 states.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. The Justice Center provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.”
Nice to have folks paying attention. Now if we can come up with the resources to implement the recommendations . . . .
Monday, February 07, 2011
Cuts Can Go Deeper
For those of us who may think our corrections is the only area in the OK state budget affected by proposed reductions, check here for an interesting piece on the state Dept of Health and how it’s come down to cutting whole programs there now rather than nipping bits and pieces out of everything in the department. Since our department is already under 70% of its authorized correctional officer capacity and has cut education, treatment, training, and other “cuttable” areas, it may be that we hear about similar things in the future, especially with the recovery in state funding still expected to be years away.
On a Cheerier Note
Here’s yet more research that every dollar you put into good pre-school education pays off many times more in reduced social problems down the road, including the crime that ends up filling our prison beds. Here are some of the basic results, but you need to click the link for all the details and qualifiers:
“Reynolds and his colleagues did the cost-benefit analysis of the CPC using information collected on about 900 children enrolled in the 20 centers starting when they were three and first enrolled in a preschool program. The study continued until the children were nine and taking part in a school-age program that featured smaller classes, teacher aides, and instructional and family support. Follow-up interviews were done in early adulthood and information was collected from many sources until age 26. These children were compared to a group of about 500 comparable children who didn't take part in the CPC but participated in the usual educational interventions for disadvantaged youths in Chicago schools.
The CPC resulted in significantly higher rates of attendance at 4-year colleges and employment in higher-skilled jobs and significantly lower rates of felony arrests and symptoms of depression in young adulthood.
The program's economic benefits in 2007 dollars exceeded costs, including increased earnings and tax revenues, averted costs related to crime and savings for child welfare, special education and grade retention. The preschool part showed the strongest economic benefits providing a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested -- equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment. Gains varied by child, program and family group.
When the researchers included the benefits from reductions in smoking, total returns rose to more than $12 per dollar invested. The school-age program yielded a return of about $4 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 10 percent) and the combined preschool and school-age program (preschool to third grade) yielded returns of $8.24 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 18 percent), based on average net benefits per child of $38,000 above and beyond less extensive intervention.
Children at higher levels of risk experienced the highest economic benefits, including males ($17.88 per dollar invested; a 22% annual return), children who had taken part in preschool for a year ($13.58 per dollar invested; a 21% annual return) and children from higher-risk families, including those whose parents had not graduated from high school ($15.88 per dollar invested; a 20% annual return).”
Friday, February 4, 2011
Evidence-Basing Evidence-Based Practice
One of the most common problems with Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is determining when failure of programs to achieve expected results in evaluations is because the program can’t work or just isn’t working with the current configuration of people, resources, and time. That point is made well here in a general post about EBP that, luckily, uses post-release, transitional work programs as its chief examples. It’s especially key to note how a studied program may be affected by and interact with other interventions and activities that an offender partakes at the same time. Cox regression models are a favorite tool to mix up a bunch of variables and then see what degree of impact each individual one has, but you still may miss synergies and emergences that come from having certain combos of programs and/or a particular ordering of them. In any case, you definitely need to think about the message in the piece that “operator capacity is a key to success” and about the possibilities that, depending on that, you may decide to cut or increase a program that is mainly dependent on that “capacity.” Very good piece to have bookmarked for reference when you are EBP’ing decisions in the future.
Make You Want to Do Drugs?
From this research:
“University of Granada scientists have analyzed the relation between drug abuse and recognition of basic emotions (happiness, surprise, wrath, fear, sadness and disgust) by drug-abusers. Thus, the study revealed that drug-abusers have difficulty to identify negative emotions by their facial expression: wrath, disgust, fear and sadness.
Further, regular abuse of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine usually affects abusers' fluency and decision-making. Consuming cannabis and cocaine negatively affects work memory and reasoning. Similarly, cocaine abuse is associated to alterations in inhibition. . . .
The study revealed that 70% of drug abusers presented some type of neuropsychological deterioration, regardless the type of substance consumed. Deterioration was registered in major degree in the working memory, and in fluency, flexibility, planning, multitask ability and interference.
Fernández Serrano thinks that the results obtained "should be employed to develop political and social policies aimed at promoting adequate rehab programs adapted to the neuropsychological profile of drug-abusers." . . .”
Go read the whole article for the study details.
Make You Want to Do Drugs?
Interesting column here on a correctional officer’s ruminations concerning the 4 types of inmates he deals with regularly. He calls them the Entitled, the Bully, the Self-Righteous, and the Sheep, with detailed descriptions of each. What do you think? These fit your concepts from your interactions with inmates? Males and females? Any of these sound like rehab programming would work? The author is inviting discussion so head on over and get heard.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
The OK DOC is back in operation today, overcoming “snow routes” to work that would deter foreign attack. For those of you who noticed we were gone, here’s your reward, a bunch of good links to fill those blank spots in your mind formed from too much coverage of the snow on local tv news:
Scientists have found the mechanisms behind the frequent depression that accompanies long-term opiate abstinence, depression that can lead to relapse, so the finding may help develop effective treatments to stop both.
Speaking of finding mechanisms, scientists have also figured out a key mechanism behind nicotine addiction, again leading to optimism about improving treatment that might also have insights for treatment of other abusive substances.
Oh-mmmmmm’ing your way to fewer misconducts and better “good behavior”? Maybe, if this Alabama prison’s program of meditation for inmates is an indication.
And, uh . . . good cop? Turns out that “bad cop” is a demonstrably less effective technique at getting offender confessions when the evidence isn’t clear-cut, primarily because “good cop” is better at tapping the guilt that many offenders feel about their actions. (Might work at home with those kids, too???)
This Week at NCJRS
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor whatever can stop our friends at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service from getting us those interesting research abstracts that tip us off to the articles we need to be reviewing. Here are a few titles to demonstrate said fact, but click on the link for the full panoply of goodies . . . sorry, still a little giddy from all the snow.
Eight Lessons From Moneyball: The High Cost of Ignoring Evidence-Based Corrections
Validating the Principles of Effective Intervention: A Systematic Review of the Contributions of Meta-Analysis in the Field of Corrections
Effectiveness of Written Materials in a Rehabilitative Program for Female Offenders: A Case Study at the Montana Women's Prison
Effect of Prison Education Programs on Recidivism
Modeling the Politics of Punishment: A Contextual Analysis of Racial Disparity in Drug Sentencing