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Criminal Justice News Spring 2014 - Vol. 3, No. 1

WSICJ’s Evidence-Based Practices Proviso

Following the passage of Senate Bill 5034, the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) was authorized funds with the proviso that an expert consultant be hired to ensure that programs offered to offenders throughout the state are based on empirical evidence and follow the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model. In response to this evidence-based practices proviso (EBPP), WADOC hired the Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice (WSICJ) as the consultant for this project. As per the proviso, WSICJ would work with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to identify programs that are evidence-based, research-based, promising practice, and ineffective, or those that should be phased-out.

Working directly with WADOC, the WSICJ created a database listing all offender programs offered across Washington. The database includes the institutional and community correctional facilities that implement the programs, the manner in which the programs are currently administered, the legislative funding status of the programs, and the current selection criteria and enrollment of the programs’ participants. In conjunction with an extensive literature review, the WSICJ used meta-analytic findings completed by WSIPP to identify specific components of evidence-based programs, including target population, intended outcome of the program, and evidence of impact.

After isolating specific program components found to be effective at reducing recidivism, WSICJ will examine the components of the Washington program database to complete the EBPP goal of classifying programs. This will form the “Repository of Evidence” where programs, their components, and complementary literature will be matched. A final report will be issued to the legislature as recommendations to strengthen or phase out programs. Once developed, WSICJ will oversee the implementation of the plan as well as its subsequent process evaluation, taking place approximately one year following the plan’s completion.

By Christopher Campbell
Washington State University