Statistical Analysis Centers (SACs) in Oregon and West Virginia were named winners of the 2016 Douglas Yearwood National Publication Award for outstanding reports that apply empirical analysis to criminal justice policy and practice. The Yearwood Award is given in two categories: Statistical/Management, and Research/Policy Analysis, with separate awards going to small (less than five staff) and large (five or more staff) SACs in each category. JRSA presented this year's awards during the awards luncheon at the 2016 National Forum on Criminal Justice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Statistical/Management reports present statistical data that identify and describe one or more justice-related issues. Submissions were evaluated by a three judge panel on a number of criteria including the effective and objective use of data, accurate and objective interpretation of data, thorough discussion of data and limitations, effective use of graphics, design and text, clear summary of findings, and innovativeness of presentation.
Oregon won the small SAC division of the Statistical/Management category for Oregon Recidivism Analysis by Michael Schmidt and Kelly Officer. In July 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed the Justice Reinvestment Act; part of this bill provided a new statewide definition of recidivism to include arrest, conviction, or incarceration for a new crime. This report examined recidivism rates of probationers and parolees, disaggregating by age, gender, race, crime type, and risk level. This report also examined length of time between release, or start of probation, to arrest, conviction, and incarceration for a new crime. Analysis found that, within three years, 53% if those released from a felony jail sentence within the first six months of 2012 were arrested for a new crime, 40% were convicted of a new misdemeanor or felony crime, and 17% were re-incarcerated for new felony offense. Among those who started a felony probation within the first six months of 2012, 46% were arrested for a new offense, 39% were convicted of a new misdemeanor or felony crime, and 12% were incarcerated for a new felony crime within three years.
The large SAC division winner was the West Virginia SAC for Evidence-Based Offender Assessment: A Comparative Analysis of West Virginia and U.S. Risk Scores by Leighann J. Davidson, Stephen M. Haas, Douglas H. Spence, and Thomas K. Arnold. This report provides a descriptive summary of the results of more than 8,000 offender risk and needs assessments conducted in the state since the adoption of the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) risk assessment tool. This report is intended to serve as a resource for practitioners seeking to understand how offenders with particular risk and needs scores compare to offender population norms within the state and nationally. Findings revealed West Virginia's correctional population has a lower risk of recidivism on average when compared to other U.S. jurisdictions. West Virginia offenders in general also had lower levels of need (specifically the Procriminal Attitude/Orientation and Antisocial Pattern domains) in comparison to offenders in other states. One judge noted the "explanation of the analytic approach is clear and quite helpful," as well as "the periodic 'result' boxes are helpful to the reader and to policymaker." Another judge added that the findings "are presented in a way that addresses the needs of policymakers and practitioners."
Research/Policy Analysis reports pose one or more specific research or evaluation questions and typically employ a specific research design to address the issues raised. They usually involve the collection and analysis of data (either quantitative or qualitative), summarize findings, and offer conclusions and recommendations. Submissions are evaluated on a number of criteria including the appropriateness of methods, thorough review of the literature, clear conclusions and recommendations, effectiveness of visual presentation of information, and innovativeness of presentation.
The 2016 Small SAC winner in the Research/Policy Analysis category was the Oregon SAC for Short-Term Transitional Leave Program in Oregon. written by Michael Schmidt and Kelly Officer. The report examines the impact of a policy change (House Bill 3194) increasing the number of days inmates can participate in Short Term Transitional Leave (STTL) from 30 to 90 on one year recidivism rates (arrest, conviction, incarceration). The study found that inmates who participated in the STTL had significantly lower one-year conviction and incarceration rates than those who did not participate in the program. While the one- year arrest rate for those who participated in the program were lower than those who did hot, the difference was not statistically significant. One judge remarked that "this is a nice straightforward report on an important policy issue" and another judge observed "the data on immigration detainers is very helpful and well presented."
The 2016 Large SAC winner in the Research/Policy Analysis category was the West Virginia SAC for Recidivism by Direct Sentence Clients Released from Day Report Centers in 2011: Predictors and Patterns over Time, written by Douglas H. Spence and Stephen M. Haas. written by Douglas H. Spence, and Stephen M. Haas. This report presents findings from a study examining rates of recidivism after successful release from a day reporting center (DRC) and is a follow-up to an initial study examining the predictors of successful program completion. It is intended to serve as the first in a series of studies which will track long term recidivism rates for the same cohort of clients. The three major objectives of the study were to assess the efficacy of DRC programs, examine the factors that predict recidivism (arrest, jail booking, incarceration), and determine the timing of recidivism behavior. Utilizing various analytic methods, this study found that clients who successfully completed their DRC sentence were significantly less likely to recidivate than those who did not, that DRC clients were significantly more likely to recidivate in the first six months post-release than subsequently (particularly if they were high-risk), and that risk scores were the strongest predictor of recidivism. In reviewing this submission, one judge noted, "excellent job of placing this research with the current literature" while another observed, "this is an excellent report on an important topic. The discussion of the research and theory…. is strong, the research design is appropriate, there is a clear discussion of the data and methods selected for analysis, and the findings are clearly presented."
For more information on the Douglas Yearwood National Publication Award, or for a list of past winners, go to http://www.jrsa.org/awards/publication-awards.htm.