Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation

Project Title: Criminal Justice Policy and Planning: Planned Change
Affiliated Faculty: Wayne Welsh and Phil Harris (retired)

Description: This book, now in its 5th edition, by Wayne Welsh and Philip Harris (Routledge/Anderson, 2016), presents a comprehensive and structured account of the process of administering planned change in the criminal justice system. A simple yet sophisticated seven-stage model offers a full account of program and policy development from beginning to end.

Project Title: SMART Supervision: CRIMNEEDS Evaluation
Funding Agency: Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Department of Justice
Affiliated Faculty: Steven Belenko (PI) and Matthew Hiller

Description: The goal of this project is to enhance the efforts of the Philadelphia Adult Probation and Parole Department to address the unmet needs of moderate to high-risk offenders by fully implementing the Risk-Needs-Responsivity model. Moderate and high-risk officers are being trained in case management techniques and supervision planning, a customized criminogenic needs assessment tool is being developed, and a computerized decision-making tool is being developed to identify the best services in Philadelphia to address the criminogenic needs of probationers. Temple is conducting a randomized controlled trial to test the impact of these new tools on probationer outcomes and service engagement.

Project Title: Coming into Focus: What Philadelphia has Learned about Body Worn Cameras in Police Work
Affiliated Faculty: Elizabeth Groff and Jennifer Wood

Description: This research evaluates a pilot deployment of body worn cameras in the Philadelphia Police Department. We conduct focus groups pre and post deployment, administer a survey to BWC officers to gain knowledge regarding their day-to-day experiences wearing cameras, and use a quasi-experimental design to determine whether the BWC officers’ behavior is different than other officers in the same district who did not wear cameras. We rely on official data sources to examine the effect of BWCs on officer behavior. We compare the activity of the 41 officers who volunteered to wear a camera with that of the 218 other officers in the 22nd district. We examine proactive officer actions as measured by arrests, car and pedestrian stops, and live stops. We also consider negative outcomes from police-citizen interactions such as use of force incidents and citizen complaints.

Project Title: Reducing Gang Violence: A Randomized Trial of Functional Family Therapy (with the University of Maryland) – Funded by National Institute of Justice
Affiliated Faculty: Jamie Fader

Description: The research will produce knowledge about how to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs and reduce delinquency among active gang members. It will evaluate a modification of Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a model program from the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development initiative. This modification, FFT-G, was developed in an earlier phase of the research. A randomized trial testing this adaptation is currently underway with funding from Smith Richardson Foundation. The long-term goal is the designation of FFT-G as a national Blueprint Model Program for a new and especially high-risk population, members of street gangs, thus providing the first known evidence-based program (EBP) for such youth. In addition to scholarly articles and presentations about the project, this research will produce a program model that is ready for broad dissemination, an existing dissemination mechanism, and a model for how public agencies can fund EBPs using existing funding streams. Given recent estimates that more than 782,000 gang members reside in the U.S., this product is expected to have a large impact on community uptake of the model.

Approximately 200 adjudicated males age 11-17 who reside in inner city Philadelphia neighborhoods with high gang prevalence and are gang members or at high risk for joining a gang will be court-ordered to receive family therapy. These subjects are then randomly assigned to receive FFT-G (treatment) or another family therapy typically used by the court (control). Treatment lasts 5 to 6 months. Participating youths and their care-givers complete interviews prior to random assignment and at 6 months post-randomization, and data from court and public assistance records are obtained. Interviews assess criminal activity, involvement in gangs, and several targeted risk factors that contribute to these poor outcomes. A process evaluation documents program implementation as well as costs for both the FFT-G and control groups.

Project Title: Cannabis Decriminalization, Law Enforcement Activity in Philadelphia, and Impact on State Correctional Institutions
Affiliated Faculty: E. Rely Vîlcică

Description: Vîlcică, in collaboration with researchers from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, will too use interrupted time series analyses to examine the impact of the marijuana decriminalization in Philadelphia on the state’s correctional institutions. For control purposes, the study will examine prison trends in: a) other drugs and non-drug related sentences; b) admissions and releases from prison pre- and post-intervention; and c) correctional institutions in the Philadelphia county and other comparable PA counties not undergoing similar interventions. Lastly, basic cost-savings analysis will also be conducted. The results should help inform current policy debate on marijuana decriminalization or legalization on a wider scale.

Project Title: Measuring Success in Focused Deterrence through an Effective Researcher-Practitioner Partnership
Affiliated Faculty: Caterina Roman

Description: This project supports the creation and maintenance of an effective, long term, sustainable research partnership that facilitates an overall research and evaluation approach utilizing joint strategy planning and development around implementing a focused deterrence law enforcement initiative in the city of Philadelphia. Focused deterrence strategies target specific criminal behavior committed by a small number of chronic offenders (in this case gang or group-affiliated offenders) who are vulnerable to sanctions and punishment.

Project Title: Parole and Correctional Processes
Affiliated Faculty: E. Rely Vîlcică

Description: In September 2008, then-Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell imposed a moratorium on all parole releases from the state’s correctional institutions, following several killings of police officers by parolees recently released from prison. The moratorium was lifted in stages, with the parole process being fully restored in Spring 2009. The moratorium had several wide-ranging unintended consequences for the parole and corrections systems in the state. In recent investigations, Vîlcică documents the impact of the moratorium on parole practices, correctional processes, inmates, and correctional staff (Vîlcică, 2016, European Journal on Criminal Policy & Research, and Corrections: Policy, Practice and Research).

Project Title: Research Support and Evaluation for Philadelphia CeaseFire: Supporting and Developing a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence Reduction
Affiliated Faculty: Caterina Roman

Description: Housed in Temple University’s Center for Bioethics, Urban Health, and Policy at the Temple School of Medicine, Philadelphia CeaseFire is a gun violence reduction intervention that utilizes the Cure Violence public health model of stopping the spread of disease. Philadelphia CeaseFire works by detecting and interrupting potentially violent conflicts; identifying and treating the highest risk; and, mobilizing the community to change norms. The evaluation consists of three main tasks: Creating a support system for staff in the collection of performance measures that will aid monthly and quarterly reporting; the conduct of an implementation evaluation; and the conduct of a rigorous impact evaluation.

The research also includes an evaluation of an expansion of the model to a local high school where two outreach workers have been employed to work directly with students.

Project Title: Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts; DUI Courts
Affiliated Faculty: Matthew Hiller

Description: Despite the rapid proliferation of drug courts since their origin in the late 1980’s, research into the variation of this type of program have been hampered by the lack of a common measurement tool to quantify this. Dr. Hiller’s research in this area examines implementation and outcomes of both adult and juvenile drug court programs. One particular area of this research is focused on the development, testing, and psychometric properties of a self-report instrument designed to measure the 10 key components of the drug court model.

With regard to DUI courts, research in this areas involves an outcome evaluation that compared an intent-to-treat sample (i.e., all participants admitted to the program regardless of their graduation status) of multiple DUI offenders to a wait-list comparison group comprised of individuals who had applied to be in the DUI court, but were unable to participate because of limited program capacity. Findings showed that DUI court participation was significantly associated with better outcomes, thus adding to the limited literature on DUI court effectiveness.

Project Title: Quantifying the short- and-long-term causes and consequences of adolescent gang involvement
Affiliated Faculty: Jeffrey T. Ward

Description: Research on gangs has hit a coming of age. However, there are still a number of important questions that necessitate clearer answers. For instance, the gang-violence link provides strong evidence for an association. Due to the inability to utilize experimental methods for obvious ethical reasons, less clear is whether gang involvement causes increased delinquency and other non-criminal outcomes such as precocious transitions or whether these relationships are spurious. This project is seeking to better quantify the contemporaneous gang facilitation effect with longitudinal survey data by exploiting advanced statistical methods within a counterfactual framework. Beyond the immediate impacts of gangs, the longer term consequences of gang involvement are also critical to understand. Collaborative work has led to the identification of pathways that connect adolescent gang involvement with criminal and non-criminal outcomes in adulthood using structural equation models (Krohn, Ward, Thornberry, Lizotte, & Chu, 2011, Criminology).

Project Title: Criminal Justice Reform and Labor Markets in the 21st Century
Affiliated faculty: Kate Auerhahn

Description: Over the last three decades, the US prison population grew dramatically, largely fueled by the enforcement of policies associated with the War on Drugs. At the same time, the American economic system underwent radical transformation, characterized by growth in highly-skilled sector occupations and decline in unskilled jobs as a result of automation and foreign outsourcing, as well as declines in labor demand generally, as evidenced by three years of a “slack” labor market. Current trends in criminal justice, such as increased interest in reentry and in reducing rates of return for former prisoners, as well as the growing movement toward drug policy reform, if continued, will ultimately result in the decarceration and reintroduction of large numbers of men and women into the labor market, the vast majority of whom are qualified for (at best) unskilled occupations. These individuals are largely superfluous to the current economic system; given the cultural and social primacy of remunerative employment, the integration of these men and women into modern American society presents a significant social policy challenge. Because the American economy is unlikely to evolve in ways that will absorb these individuals, alternative approaches to addressing both the labor market discrepancy and the consequent implications for crime merit exploration. This project focuses on the idea of citizenship rights, and the idea of Guaranteed Basic Income, modeling a comparison of the costs of such a policy as compared to those of incarceration over the life course.