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Evaluating Reentry Programs Using Data and Science

NCJ Number
John Wetzel; Grant Duwe
Date Published
August 2019
3 pages
In this video (1 minute and 49 seconds), John Wetzel, the Secretary of Corrections of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and Grant Duwe, the Director of Research and Evaluation of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, explain how their agencies evaluate correctional programs by using data and science.
Wetzel indicates that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has a research division that continually evaluates the department's many programs. This involves collecting data on performance measures that encompass both program implementation and outcomes. The programs evaluated range from drug and alcohol abuse programs to trauma treatment and vocational training programs. Duwe notes that the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) uses data and science in making various decisions regarding the inmate population. It uses validated risk-and-needs assessments as the basis for identifying the types of programs that are required to meet the inmate needs identified in assessments. The programs developed by the DOC are based on the replication of programs that scientific evaluations have shown to be effective with inmates who have particular needs and characteristics. The focus is on programs that target known risk factors for recidivism, which include criminal thinking, interaction with antisocial peers, substance abuse, education, and employment.