The state of Pennsylvania has been a recent leader in criminal justice reform.
Pennsylvania used evidence-based practices to create programs and policies aimed at rehabilitating people involved with the justice system and assisting citizens returning to their communities after incarceration.
As a result, Pennsylvania reached the lowest prison population in over two decades, closed two state prisons, and reallocated millions of taxpayer dollars.
Pennsylvania’s Justice System Improvement
Pennsylvania signed into law two bills that would reduce the number of people incarcerated for minor offenses and establish alternatives to imprisonment for individuals with mental health concerns or substance abuse addiction.
The package of bills, called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), seeks to reduce prison populations and re-arrest numbers while increasing public safety by investing in evidence-based programs that provide drug treatment and mental health services.
Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG), an organization focused on improving justice systems across the country, worked with Pennsylvania to develop recommendations as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. CSG studies have found that incarceration is not effective at reducing crime or lowering recidivism rates. The group also found that investing funds in community-based treatment rather than incarceration leads to better outcomes for individuals and communities.
To advance probation services, the County Chief Adult Probation and Parole Officers Association of Pennsylvania connects probation agencies with evidence-based practice training programs provided by Carey Group and the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI) to improve outcomes and enhance public safety.
Carey Group Evidence-Based Training and Consultation
Carey Group is a leader in the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP). EBPs are interventions or programs that have been rigorously evaluated and shown to produce positive outcomes. They can be used to improve the efficacy of individual services, such as mental health or substance use treatment, and to improve the criminal justice system as a whole.
Carey Group helps the County Chief Adult Probation and Parole Officers Association of Pennsylvania and its members become EBP organizations with a three-fold strategy:
- EBP Coordination
Carey Group coordinates the association's efforts to implement its EBP strategic plan by developing white papers and briefs, establishing a statewide training and education strategy, improving practices and policies, and holding webinars.
- EBP Training
Through grant funding, Pennsylvania’s probation agencies receive online virtual training on EBP topics through 2022. Carey Group and UCCI have trained nearly 1,500 people to date.
- BJA Smart Grant
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded a competitive grant to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to implement innovative evidence-based community supervision strategies. Carey Group is a subcontractor on this project, working with the County Commissioner Association of Pennsylvania to set up three demonstration sites and more than a dozen learning sites throughout Pennsylvania. The goal is to reduce recidivism by 15% over three years.
Additionally, Carey Group performs quality assurance and continuous improvement services to ensure Pennsylvania’s evidence-based programs are effective and practiced consistently. Often, justice system agencies find that procedures veer from their intended path over time. In order to realign practices with the organization's goals, Carey Group helps agencies create structured quality reviews, coaching, and other improvement processes.
Achieving Criminal Justice Reform Throughout the United States
Pennsylvania is an excellent example of how states can impact client outcomes with the right programs and practices in place. The United States imprisons over 2 million individuals, whom will return to prison within the first year of reentry into society.
Multiple studies and organizations, such as the American Psychological Association and the National Institute of Justice, agree that sending people convicted of crimes to prison without proper programs and practices in place is not an effective method of deterring crime.
Programs that effectively reduce recidivism, according to CSG, have three qualities:
- They target the right people, reserving intensive programs for people most likely to remain involved with the justice system
- They use evidence-based programs and practices
- They monitor the quality of program delivery
Carey Group (Consulting and Publishing) is a national consulting and publishing firm that equips justice system and behavioral health professionals with knowledge, skills, and tools that improve the lives of clients. We make this possible by providing an array of staff training, organizational consulting services, and evidence-informed intervention tools. Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based training and consulting services.