Randomised Controlled Trials in Corrections Examined in New Paper

The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in early June released a white paper that overviews the randomized controlled trial design as a method for evaluating programs in state prison settings. A randomized controlled trial, or RCT, is considered the gold standard method for evaluating outcomes of programs and policies. This study discusses considerations and challenges when an RCT evaluation is conducted in a state prison.

“There is a real misconception among many in the field that it is too difficult, costly, or impractical to conduct a randomized controlled trial in a prison,” said NIJ Director David Muhlhausen. “We need to overcome that misconception as learning what really works in reducing recidivism is essential to public safety.” Rigorous program evaluation can help state prison systems implement effective policies and programs that address the recidivism issue and improve prisoner reentry outcomes. To view the paper, click here.

TMG Hosts Virtual Conference on PPEs Needed During Crisis

Correctional leaders are faced with unique challenges and crises – COVID-19 is no exception. As part of TMG’s Women in Leadership Regional Program we spoke to Terri McDonald, a leader in the criminal justice field who has faced daunting leadership challenges head on for over her nearly 40-year career. Her unique take called for a different kind of PPE to strategically lead during crisis. You can hear from Ms. McDonald here. For more information, take a look at this infographic detailing her “Top 10 Tips” for leading in a crisis here.

NCCHC and Sheriffs Share COVID-19 Insights Each Week in Webinar

The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) has partnered with the major U.S. county sheriffs to present a weekly, practical update to answer questions and share COVID-19 insights from the front lines. To ensure quality, seats are limited but anyone can listen to the webinar and download the slides every Friday. Past webinars included:

  • COVID-19 How are Veterans Treatment Courts Dealing with the Coronavirus?
  • National Association of Drug Court Professionals: Webinar Series (Multiple)
  • Releasing People who are High Utilizers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Find out more here.

Supplemental CDC Guidelines Created for Corrections

The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) recently developed a document that offers suggestions to sheriffs regarding response to COVID-19. The scenarios addressed (download the document here) primarily address situations in which sheriffs are faced with decisions that require a trade-off between keeping as many staff at their posts and at the same time implementing the most effective methods of reducing the spread of virus. The document provides suggested guidance that is dependent on individual agency’s resources, and each sheriff will need to navigate decisions based on local circumstances and local government guidance.

Guidelines for First Responders and Victims of Sexual Violence

While COVID-19 requires social distancing practices in most instances, first responders still need to account for the unique circumstances involved with victims of sexual violence both within and outside of incarceration.

Currently, many law enforcement agencies have moved to remote operations and are following Centers for Disease Control prevention guidelines, but are still conducting virtual and in-person interviews, as needed. To help in this effort, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) created this checklist for first responders and those planning temporary medical facilities. You can download it here.

ACA Past President Honored by Tiffin University

ACA Past President and long-time TMG consultant Dr. Reggie Wilkinson was honored by Tiffin University recently during the virtual Tiffin University (Ohio) graduation ceremony. Dr. Wilkinson was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree following his virtual commencement address. Dr. Wilkinson has served on the Board of Trustees for Tiffin university for eight years and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Board.

Experts Identify Priority Needs for Addressing Correctional Agency Security Threats

A select working group of 17 correctional officials and security experts from across the country, convened by the National Institute of Justice, ranked 13 security-threat categories in order of perceived importance. More than 90 percent of the experts assigned “high importance” to the problem of insufficient staffing — more than any other threat category. But the experts articulated the largest number of discrete priority needs in the category of contraband — led by needs related to illicit drugs, weapons, and cellphones. Gangs and violence together comprised another top-level problem for institutions, with gangs seen as posing a fundamental security threat by manipulating or otherwise disrupting operations, according to the working group report developed by RAND Corporation.

RAND and University of Denver researchers organized and managed the correctional security workshop, made up of institution administrators, federal agency representatives, and security professionals, as part of NIJ’s Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative. Key goals of the program were to identify priority needs to guide NIJ’s research agenda and to advance the national discourse on correctional security issues. See the full article here.

What Happens To Women Who Are Pregnant in Prison?

What happens to women who are pregnant in prison, and to the babies born to them? A rare and intimate look at pregnancy and motherhood behind bars, FRONTLINE and The Marshall Project go inside Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in “Tutwiler” — an unforgettable window into the lives of pregnant women in prison, and what happens to their newborns. A documentary short you can view here from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon.

Mindfulness Webinar Aims To Help Correctional Supervisors

Are you aware of the messages your supervisory performance sends in stressful circumstances and their impact on your team? Are you interested in increasing your self-awareness, decrease tension, improve concentration, and ultimately improve your team’s health and workplace satisfaction? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this one hour interactive webinar sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), June 2, 1:00 pm ET, has some answers for you.

Research suggests that, as the emotional and/or mental well-being of each team member decline, organizational and professional growth are negatively affected. How you perform in stressful circumstances sends a clear message, whether positive or negative, to your team. During this interactive webinar, NIC will explore techniques that can be used to address workplace stress using mindfulness that starts with you, in your role as supervisor.


Dr.  Rosalind Smith Sistrunk, Rosalind Smith Counseling

Dr. Sistrunk is a licensed professional clinical counselor in the state of Ohio who specializes in relationship counseling. She conducts mindfulness-based workshops and services to help improve the emotional well-being of individuals and organizations. Dr. Sistrunk believes that a supervisor’s healthy emotional well-being can have a positive impact on any workforce.

Who Should Attend?

Any individual who supervises and/or leads employees working in a state, federal, or local correctional jurisdiction.

NIC recommends that sites with multiple attendees consider registering and viewing the webinar together to facilitate implementation of webinar content into practice.

How Do I Register?

Click here to register in NIC’s WebEx Event Center.

What We’ve Learned About COVID-19 in Prisons

A commentary in RealClear Politics is certainly worth a read as corrections tries to deal with the unprecedented effects of COVID-19. (photo credit: Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Confirmation bias is common in policy arguments, and debates about COVID-19’s impact on American corrections systems are no exception. Many criminal justice reform advocates think that any inmate vulnerable to COVID-19 — regardless of sentenced offense or prospects for successful re-entry — should be released, while skeptics reflexively reject these calls to reduce prison populations. Under present circumstances, neither impulse is helpful.  To view the full article, click here.