New developments in ‘Evidence-based Corrections’

The post that follows comes from Prof Jim Byrne at Griffith University in Brisbane. Jim was a participant in one of the Glasgow ‘Discovering Desistance’ workshops and was also the organiser of a similar event in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he was based until his recent move to Griffith. The post reproduces an editorial in a journal he edits called ‘Victims and Offenders’ and concerns an important new initiative that prompted his move from the USA to Australia…

Editor’s Introduction: Global Perspectives on Victims, Offenders, and Communities

I think many readers of Victims and Offenders will be interested in a very recent development: the creation of the Global Centre for Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing (GCECS) at Griffith University. As the Director of the Centre, I encourage you to visit our webpage and find out more about our plans in the three key areas we emphasize : research, policy, and practice. I have included a brief description of the centre here, and I urge you to contact me if you would like to join our global research consortium ( James.Byrne@griffith.edu.au ).

The Global Centre For Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing www.gcecs.edu.au

Our centre will provide researchers, policymakers, and practitioners a new global forum for knowledge exchange regarding evidence-based corrections and sentencing strategies, based on an expanded and more inclusive definition of what constitutes research evidence. Although the term evidence-based has been defined narrowly in many circles to only include the results of high quality program evaluations, we will take a broader view of what constitutes evidence, one that recognizes the importance of personal narratives, community  context, and non-programmatic  assessments. We plan to include the results of both quantitative and qualitative research in the area of corrections and sentencing in our evidence-based reviews. It is our view that evaluation research—even the few well-designed research studies currently available for review — can only reveal part of the story about what works and doesn’t work with our global offender population. To understand the problem and offer informed policy and practice recommendations, we need to move beyond a focus on programs and  also consider the individual and community context of both crime commission and desistance from crime.

The Centre’s aim is to become the globally recognised leader in the area of evidence-based corrections and sentencing, and the primary source of information on how to integrate both individual and community level change strategies into effective corrections/sentencing policies and practices. Our goal is to develop an international knowledge exchange and collaborative research network, which will be directed through Griffith University and will engage researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from each global region interested in corrections and sentencing issues. The centre will emphasize the need to study the social ecology of corrections, in recognition of the importance of understanding how both individual-level and community-level factors influence our attitudes and behaviours throughout the life course. However, other theoretically informed assessments of corrections and sentencing reform will also be encouraged, along with research that examines particular corrections and sentencing problems (e.g. over-representation of minorities/ indigenous populations) in their full historical context.

The Centre’s View of Individual and Community Change

The centre will be designed based on a simple premise: you cannot change offenders without also changing the communities where offenders reside. While our institutional and community corrections system has multiple aims– including retribution/punishment, community safety and protection, offender rehabilitation and reintegration, and restorative outcomes–corrections agencies spend considerable time and resources on developing programs to change offenders into non-offenders. To date, these efforts have only had, at best, a marginal impact, in large part because their focus has been on the individual, while ignoring the influence of community context (e.g. community attitudes, values, resources, and structure). Community context can be incorporated into institutional and community corrections policies and practices in a wide range of areas (e.g. restorative sentencing, risk assessment, treatment programming, re-entry planning, culturally responsive interventions, desistance-focused community supervision, location-specific community resource development, and justice reinvestment). Our plan is to conduct high quality research with consortium partners on the impact of these strategies, and to provide opportunities for a global discussion of the implications of this emerging body of research for corrections and sentencing policies and practices.

Description of Centre Activities

The Centre will work collaboratively with local, state, national, and international policymakers on the development of evidence-based corrections programs and sentencing policies and practices that maximize public safety. Of particular importance is the goal of helping policymakers develop and implement successful, evidence-based individual, organizational and community change strategies. Towards this goal, the new Centre will conduct original research in partnership with corrections organizations, beginning initially with the Queensland Department of Corrective Services, and then expanding throughout Australia. We will also develop formal collaborative research partnerships—and comparative research projects– with a global consortium of research centres that focus on corrections and sentencing issues, in order to maximize the quality, outreach, and visibility of the Centre’s global research and evidence-based corrections policy and practice efforts. With the help of our global consortium partners, we plan to develop a series of global knowledge exchange seminars, and produce systematic, evidence-based reviews of the available research on key corrections and sentencing policy issues.

The Griffith University Global Centre for Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing will begin with the following three initiatives:

1) High Quality Corrections and Sentencing Research Agenda– the Centre will develop research projects focusing on evaluating the impact of current corrections and sentencing strategies( adult/juvenile) in Queensland, throughout Australia, and internationally. We will also develop comparative corrections and sentencing research studies ( qualitative and quantitative) in partnership with our consortium centre partners;

(2) Knowledge Exchange Seminars and Systematic, Evidence -based Policy Reviews — To translate research into practice, the Centre will develop a series of executive session seminars and workshops highlighting corrections and sentencing issues in each global region; in conjunction with the executive seminars, the Centre will publish a series of objective, independent reviews of the available research on key corrections and sentencing policy issues, which will inform policymakers, both in Australia and in the international community;

(3) Global Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing Network Development: The Centre will develop a global network of researchers, policymakers and practitioners interested in conducting high quality corrections research, and using this research base to improve the performance of the adult and juvenile corrections and sentencing system in their respective jurisdictions; in the process, the Centre—through the Centre’s state of the art website– will become a global clearinghouse for high quality, evidence-based corrections research, and a primary source of information on global corrections performance, and innovative corrections and sentencing policies and practices.

Location and Global Collaboration

The Centre will be located at Griffith University’s Mt. Gravatt campus, and housed administratively within Griffith University’s Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance. The Centre will include academic colleagues from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice who have research expertise and interests in corrections and sentencing issues, as well as an interdisciplinary mix of researchers interested in these topics from across the university.

The initial response from the global research community has been excellent. A preliminary listing of our global consortium members is included below:

GCECS Consortium Members by Global Region

Asia:

  1. Spencer De Li, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of Macau
  2. Hiroshi Tsutomi, Professor, Faculty of International Relations, University of Shizuoka

Australia:

  1. Stuart Ross, Director, Melbourne Centre for Criminological Research and Evaluation, University of Melbourne
  2. Adam Tomison, Director, Australian Institute of Criminology
  3. Stuart Kinner, Associate Professor, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
  4. Jesse Cale, Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales
  5. Hilde Tubex, Professor, Future Fellow, the Crime Research Centre, University of Western Australia
  6. Sharan Kraemer, Lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Edith Cowan University
  7. Natalie Gately, Lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Edith Cowan University
  8. Frank Morgan, Director, Crime Research Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia
  9. Chris Trotter, Professor, Department of Social Work, Monash University
  10. Andrew Day, Professor, School of Psychology, Deakin University
  11. Richard Harding, Emeritus Professor, Crime Research Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia
  12. Glenn Ross, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Law and Justice, Edith Cowan University ‘
  13. Mark Halsey, Professor, Law School, Flinders University
  14. Garry Coventry, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, Education & Social Sciences, James Cook University

Australian Policy and Practice Participants:

  1. Marlene Morrison,  Former Commissioner, Queensland Corrective Services, Department of Community Safety
  2. Mark Rallings, Deputy Director, Queensland Corrective Services, Department of Community Safety
  3. Mary McKinnon, Director, Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch, Department of Human Services (Victoria)
  4. Peter Severin, Commissioner, Corrective Services NSW
  5. Julie Harcourt, Director, Strategic Policy and Research, Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian (Qld)
  6. Barry Salmon, Acting Commissioner and Child Guardian, Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian

Griffith University Faculty and Staff:

  1. John Rynne, Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  2. Ross Homel, Professor, Director, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice & Governance
  3. Paul Mazerolle, Professor, Pro Vice Chancellor
  4. Melissa Bull, Associate Director, Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security
  5. Samantha Jefferies, Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  6. Stephen Smallbone, Professor  and Director, Griffith Youth Forensic Service
  7. William Wood, Research Associate, GCECS Centre, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  8. Mark Kebbell, Professor, Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security
  9. Christine Bond, Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  10. Myesa Knox-Mahoney, Associate Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  11. 33.       Anna Macklin, Senior Research Fellow, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  12. 34.       Kate Smith, Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  13. 35.       Rebecca Wallis, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  14. 36.       Danielle Reynald, Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  15. 37.       Shannon Sprigg, Mentors in Violence Prevention, Violence Research and Prevention

Canada:

  1. Candace Kruttschnitt, Professor, Faculty of Sociology, University of Toronto
  2. Raymond Corrado, Professor, British Columbia Centre for Social Responsibility, Simon Fraser University

Caribbean:

  1. Asha Degannes, Acting Director, Eastern Caribbean Centre, University of the US Virgin Isles

Europe:

  1. Santiago Redondo Illescas, Professor, Criminology and Psychology, University of Barcelona
  2. Kristel Beyens, Professor, Penology, Criminology Department Research Group, Crime and Society, Vrije University Belgium
  3. Paul Nieuwbeerta, Professor, Faculty of Criminal Law and Criminology, University of Leiden
  4. Anja Dirkzwager, Senior Researcher, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)
  5. Sonja Snacken, Professor, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Vrije University Brussels
  6. Peter van der Laan, Professor, Faculty of Law, Vrije University, Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)
  7. Ioan Durnescu, Lecturer, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest

Central and South America:

  1. 48.       Carlos J. Vilalta, Professor/Researcher ,Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE), Mexico City

United Kingdom:

  1. Richard Wortley, Director, Jill Dando Institute for Security & Crime, University of Central London
  2. Alison Liebling, Director, Prison Research Centre & Professor, Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Cambridge
  3. Shadd Maruna, Professor, School of Law, Queens University Belfast
  4. Kevin Wong, Deputy Director, Hallam Centre for Community Justice, Sheffield Hallam University
  5. Michele Burman, Professor, University of Glasgow, Co-Director, SCCJR
  6. Richard Sparks, Professor, University of Edinburgh, Co-Director, SCCJR
  7. Fergus McNeil, Professor, University of Glasgow, Director, CREDOS
  8. Bill Whyte, Professor of Social Work, University of Edinburgh
  9. Cyrus Tata, Professor, Law School, Strathclyde University

United Kingdom Policy and Practice Participants:

  1. Brian Heath, Director, Jersey Probation (Advisory Board)
  2. Alec Spencer, Director of Rehabilitation and Care, Scottish Prison Service (Retired), Independent Consultant (Advisory Board)

United States:

  1. Jim Finckenauer, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, (Advisory Board)
  2. Faye Taxman, Director, Criminology, law and Society Program & ACE (Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence), George Mason University (Advisory Board)
  3. William Bales, Director, Centre for Criminology and Public Policy Research, Florida State University
  4. Tom Blomberg, Dean , School of Criminal Justice, Florida State University
  5. Susan Turner, Director, Center for Evidence-based Corrections & Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine
  6. Cassia Spohn, Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University
  7. Pamela Lattimore, Director, Crime, Justice Policy, and Behavior Program,   Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International
  8. Doris MacKenzie, Director and Professor, Justice Center for Research, Department of Sociology and Criminology, Penn State University
  9. Alex Piquero, Professor, Criminology, School of Economic, Political, and Policy Science  (EPPS), University of Texas
  10. Paula Smith, Deputy Director, Corrections Institute, University of Cincinnati
  11. Edward Latessa, Director, Corrections Institute, University of Cincinnati (Advisory Board)
  12. Chet Britt, Dean, College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
  13. Michael Osterman, Associate Professor and Director, Evidence-based Institute for Justice Policy Research, Rutgers University
  14. Andres Rengifo, Associate Professor, School of Criminology, Rutgers University
  15. Todd Clear, Dean School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University (Advisory Board)
  16. Andrew Harris, Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  17. April Pattavina, Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  18. Arthur J. Lurigio, Professor, Faculty Scholar/Master Researcher, Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Loyola University, Chicago
  19. Aaron Kupchtick, Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware
  20. Frank Cullen, Professor, Center for Criminal Justice Research, University of Cincinnati
  21. Johnna Christian, Associate Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University

United States Policy and Practice Participants

  1. Ron Corbett, Commissioner of Probation, Massachusetts, USA (retired) (Advisory Board)
  2. Carl Wickland, Executive Director, American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) ( Advisory Board)
  3. Carol O’Brien, Assistant Superintendent, Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, Massachusetts (Advisory Board)
  4. Phylis Shultze, Librarian, Don M. Gottfredson Library of Criminal Justice, Rutgers School of Law, Newark

Corrections and Sentencing Research Agenda

The Centre will develop research projects in the area of corrections and sentencing that reflect the Centre’s focus on understanding person-environment interactions, and on designing, implementing, and evaluating intervention/ desistance strategies that emphasize the need for both individual and community change. We will also be looking toward the development and dissemination of global corrections and sentencing performance measures. A third area of research inquiry will focus on collaborative and comparative research projects with consortium members (e.g. justice reinvestment in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia).

The centre will develop research projects evaluating the impact of current corrections and sentencing strategies (adult/juvenile) in  Queensland, throughout Australia, and internationally. To support our global research activities, we plan to initiate a visiting corrections scholars program, where researchers from each region come to the Centre for short and longer term stays, in order to collaborate on Centre-based research and/or present their research to our faculty and students. We will pursue an active policy research agenda in conjunction with our consortium partners.

Corrections and Sentencing Policy Agenda

One of the primary functions of our Centre will be to provide opportunities for corrections and sentencing knowledge exchange that spans typical regional boundaries, linking policymakers, practitioners and researchers from each global region. To support these efforts, the Centre will prepare a series of white papers and rapid evidence assessments (REAs) in key sentencing and corrections policies under government review in Australia, and in other countries across the globe. While our corrections and sentencing policy briefs and REAs will be developed for a global audience, we recognize the need to initially focus on issues currently under discussion and review in Australia (e.g. privatization, boot camps, justice reinvestment, and over-representation of indigenous populations in corrections).

In addition to our policy briefs and REAs, we will also develop workshops on specific evidence-based corrections and sentencing policy and practice initiatives for corrections and sentencing staff/management, government officials, and/or the community.

Corrections and Sentencing Evidence-based Best Practices Agenda

The Centre will provide global corrections conferences and training programs on what works in corrections and sentencing that we anticipate will be attended by policy makers, government officials, and corrections managers from Australia and internationally. We have also developed an online resource clearinghouse for evidence-based research, policy, and practice in sentencing and corrections, providing one-stop shopping for corrections and sentencing online resources, self-assessments, and performance measures. Finally, we plan to utilize webinars, social media, and online workshops to reach a global audience interested in best practices in corrections and sentencing, based on our expanded view of what constitutes evidence in evidence-based reviews.