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Evaluation of the Utah Department of Correction’s (UDC) Implementation of the Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction (SRR) Program

Introduction: The Bureau of Justice Assistance awards funding to federal and state correctional agencies for vital programs and systems reform aimed at improving the reentry process through the Second Chance Act (SCA). The SCA legislation was signed into law on April 9, 2008 and designed to help states take a systematic, sustainable approach to establish policies and practices that will improve recidivism outcomes for individuals returning from federal and state prisons, local jails, and juvenile facilities. In order to receive funding, correctional agencies must invest in implementing evidence-based programs and practices that have been shown to reduce recidivism. The initiatives selected by correctional agencies must address three primary areas: 1) use of risk/needs assessments to inform resource-allocation decisions and individual case plans, 2) evaluate recidivism-reduction programs, practices, and trainings and ensure that they are implemented with fidelity, and 3) implement community supervision policies and practices that promote successful reentry.

The Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) was awarded funding through the SCA to implement an initiative to improve the reentry process for individuals returning to the community from prison. It was through this funding that UDC designed and implemented the Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction (SRR) initiative. The main goal of SRR is to reduce the criminogenic risks of justice-involved individuals reentering the community. In order to achieve this, UDC is implementing more frequent/timely LS/RNR assessments as well as developing individualized case action plans for parolees based on current risk/needs assessment results. The case action plans consist of evidence-based programming, career building opportunities, and strong support systems that begins upon intake into prison, evolves throughout their time in custody, and continues upon release back into the community.

As of 2014, approximately 62% of UDC inmates released from prison return within 3 years of release. SRR was designed to have the greatest impact on high or intensive risk individuals given that they are responsible for the majority of returns to prison in Utah. High to intensive risk individuals accounted for 84% of returns to prison in 2014. UDC has set a goal to reduce statewide recidivism by 10% within the first two years of implementing SRR initiatives and 25% within a 5-year period.

Phase I

Study Dates: September 2020
Phase Evaluation Plan and Objectives: 
The Utah Criminal Justice Center contracted with the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) to evaluate several aspects of the Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction (SRR) Programs’ initiatives and their hypothesized effects. This report is divided into sections that address each of the following objectives related to SRR:

  1. Examination of whether risk/needs scoring fidelity (quality assurance), overall and across UDC Adult Probation and Parole locations (when sample size allowed), improved from pre- to post-SRR adoption;
  2. Examination of whether the frequency of risk/needs assessments administered within 60 and 90 days of release pre- and post-SRR differed;
  3. An analysis of whether client risk/needs assessment (overall and by domain-specific score) trajectories improved (owing to improved services) between pre- and post-SRR periods;
  4. Examination of whether the case action plans (CAPs) occurring/updated within 60 and 90 days of release improved between the pre- and post-SRR periods; and
  5. 5.An analysis of whether case action plans’ alignment with needs identified by the LS/RNR risk assessment improved from pre- to post-SRR adoption.

As noted in more detail in the relevant section below, the fourth and fifth objectives could not be addressed as planned in the current evaluation due to data limitations. Analyses related to goals four and five are tentatively planned for a Phase II evaluation, if funded. The nature of the problems surrounding CAP data are discussed in more detail in Section Four, CAP-related issues.

Note that this report is a Phase One report evaluating the aforementioned objectives of the program. Pending future funding, two additional phases will examine recidivism and treatment outcomes in addition to the five objectives listed above (including the CAP analyses, if possible). Because of the limited amount of time since SRR implementation, an analysis of recidivism was not viable at this stage and will be covered in a Phase Two report if funded. Additionally, UDC is currently working on a system to better track treatment and treatment dosage. These system-improvements are expected to be in place by the time a Phase Two report would be written; treatment outcomes will be examined at that time.

Download the Phase One Report

Phase 2

Study Dates: October 2021
Phase Evaluation Plan and Objectives: 
The Utah Criminal Justice Center (UCJC) contracted with the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) to evaluate several aspects of the Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction (SRR) Programs’ initiatives and their hypothesized effects. This report is divided into sections that address each of the following objectives related to SRR:

  1. An evaluation of how well case action plans (CAPs) align with risk assessments along with documentation of improvements in alignment over time (by month).
  2. A cohort analysis to examine whether there has been a statistically significant reduction in the rate of recidivism across the cohorts (i.e., pre-SRR; short-term post-SRR; long-term post-SRR).

As noted in more detail in the relevant section below, the second objective could not be addressed as proposed in the scope of work due to potential confounders between the cohorts (e.g., historical events) as well as limitations related to using propensity score matching (e.g., it often drops too many unmatched cases across groups). In order to address these issues, covariates were included in the modeling process to examine recidivism; modifications are discussed in more detail below.

Download the Phase Two Report

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Last Updated: 2/17/22