Conducting two community corrections research studies
Drs. Douglas Spence and Stephen M. Haas of the West Virginia Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center (the WV SAC) are conducting two community corrections research studies that focus on program completion and recidivism rates within day report centers (DRC). The first study investigates the factors that influence the likelihood that DRC clients successfully completed their program and provides a preliminary examination of the relationship between the manner in which clients exited the DRC and their risk of recidivism during the two years following their release. The second study will build on this work by presenting a more in-depth analysis of the different causes of recidivism by DRC clients and will examine the different patterns of recidivist activity exhibited by DRC clients over time. Both studies make use of the same sample of roughly 2,000 clients who were all directly sentenced to DRCs and released at some point during the year 2011. Preliminary results for the first study suggest that a number of factors related to clients' demographic characteristics, living situations, criminal histories, and level of recidivism risk (as assessed by the LS/CMI risk assessment tool) all had a statistically significant impact on their probability of successfully completing the program, and that the clients who completed the program successfully were less likely to recidivate during the two-year follow-up period. In addition, the results of initial analyses conducted for the second study suggest that clients who successfully completed their programs were also less likely to be incarcerated, and that the relationship between successful program completion and a reduced likelihood of recidivism is consistent across different phases of the follow-up period.
Plans for future community corrections research include an investigation into the effects of DRC program characteristics on client outcomes. This study will examine whether programs that exhibit greater adherence to the principles of effective correctional interventions also experience higher rates of program completion and lower rates of recidivism. Another goal of this study will be to assess the extent to which commonly available information about community corrections programs, such as completion rates or information about the types of interventions clients receive, can be used to create effective measures of program quality that correlate well with the results of other measures based on direct observations.