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Evaluation Design for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections' Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology with Jail Inmates

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2008
34 pages
This report presents a research design that could be used to evaluate the implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID)--a system of tags fitted with a programmable chip that monitors the wearer’s identity and location--within a major urban jail setting (the District of Columbia Department of Corrections).
In consultation with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC), researchers developed an evaluation design oriented around five objectives. One objective is to provide timely feedback to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (the funder of the evaluation), DC DOC, and other interested jurisdictions on RFID’s implementation. A second objective is to provide feedback on the process of implementing RFID. A third objective is to assess the impact of RFID’s implementation on identified outcome measures. A fourth objective is to compare costs to the facilities against the cost of implementing RFID technology, including direct and indirect costs and benefits associated with RFID. The fifth objective is to draw lessons for improving overall RFID implementation, design, and operations. The major components of the research design are a process evaluation, an outcomes trend analysis, and analyses of categories of costs and benefits. The process evaluation would focus on understanding how RFID may impact and change jail population management. It would focus on capturing information about initial installation and pilot testing, full deployment, and post-installation. The outcome trends analysis would consist of a pre-design and post-design that would assess change in relation to a series of variables already tracked by DC DOC (e.g., inmate-on-inmate violence). Because a formal cost-benefit analysis is not likely to be feasible, researchers recommend a study that captures areas of expected and unexpected benefits that would contribute to a framework for considering costs and benefits. 4 tables and 7 references

Date Published: November 1, 2008