The North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) and the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) hosted a research partnership interest meeting on January 23, 2024, to discuss this project. Click here for the meeting recording and slide deck.
This project has four sub-questions, which one or more researchers/research teams could pursue:
- Do incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who participate in institutional rehabilitation programs (e.g., cognitive behavioral interventions, parenting programs, work release, vocational training/apprenticeships, etc.) show improvements in rates of recidivism and/or in behavioral outcomes (e.g., reductions in disciplinary infractions, staff assaults, self-injury, etc.) compared with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who do not participate in such programs?
- Do incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who participate in reentry services and programs (e.g., Recidivism Reduction Services, Moral Reconation Therapy, career center supports, etc.) show improvements in rates of recidivism and/or other outcomes (e.g., increased rates of employment, housing, engagement in treatment, etc.) compared to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who do not participate in such services and programs?
- Do the answers to 1 and 2 above vary depending on demographic or other identifiable characteristics (e.g., age, sentence length, crime type(s), Security Risk Group (SRG; ‘gang’) affiliation, sex/gender, etc.)?
- What are recommended practices and/or strategies for NCDAC to build a high-quality data infrastructure that tracks participation and recidivism of individuals who participate in community supervision?
To inform continued rehabilitation and reentry efforts, NCDAC seeks to better understand which programs, opportunities, and pathways to prioritize for incarcerated and community-supervised populations. NCDAC aims to generate internal data to better inform the agency on “evidence-based” rehabilitation and reentry services and on common correctional trends that the agency already uses. As NCDAC continues to prioritize correctional programming and services, the agency hopes to identify and provide the most effective programs, services, and practices to all incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals who could benefit from those programs, services, and practices.
The NCDAC Division of Rehabilitation and Reentry is the primary body for rehabilitation programming and reentry programming for currently incarcerated individuals and those on post-release supervision or parole. The Division is comprised of three main teams:
- Reentry Services oversees practices and programming that prepares for and supports incarcerated individuals prior to release and for post-release supervision or parole. Efforts include oversight of Local Reentry Councils, evidence-based programming, and partnerships with community stakeholders, as well as work with the Division of Community Supervision.
- Social Work Services oversees and facilitates the handoff between prison-based and community-based services. Social Work Services staff create aftercare plans to support individuals’ post-release supervision needs. The aftercare plans focus on a wide spectrum of potential needs (e.g., healthcare, housing, employment, food security, etc.).
- Rehabilitation Services oversees most of the institutional programming efforts within NCDAC correctional facilities. Programming includes cognitive-behavioral interventions, parenting and family service programs, work release and job assignments, apprenticeship training support, and various partnerships with external organizations and volunteer groups.
NCDAC identified this research question through the NCDAC and OSP partnership, which is a broader strategic effort, to develop NCDAC's Priority Questions Research Agenda. This process included feedback from internal and external stakeholders who discussed in listening sessions and indicated on surveys that understanding the effectiveness of the agency’s rehabilitation and reentry services should be the top priority for NCDAC.
NCDAC, established as a new Cabinet agency in the 2021-23 state budget, began operations on January 1, 2023. NCDAC is the second largest North Carolina state government agency with almost 20,000 positions and an annual budget of approximately $2 billion. NCDAC is responsible for approximately 30,000 individuals who are incarcerated in state prisons and more than 84,000 individuals who are on supervised probation, parole, or post-release supervision.
NCDAC and researcher/s will discuss project deliverables, which are likely to include:
Reports and presentations to NCDAC, specifically, to Division of Rehabilitation and Reentry leadership. These deliverables may include:
- High-level summary of outcomes by program/service.
- Recommendations for building a high-quality data infrastructure that allows for input and sharing of information among participating community organizations and NCDAC regarding service/program participation in the community supervision population.
- Analytical results, specific to programs/services or types of programs/services, assessing the impacts on/associations with desired outcomes.
- Specific policy recommendations and operational guidance that includes which programs/services/practices are most efficacious, which may not be, and how to align program/services/practice implementation with the groups most likely to benefit from them.
- Peer-reviewed publications to the extent feasible and appropriate.
Planned use of results
NCDAC will use the results of this project to inform policy and procedure as well as general operating decisions for programs, services, and practices. The overarching purpose of this project is to establish an evidence rationale, using North Carolina data and resources, to support the identification, delivery, modification, expansion, and/or elimination of rehabilitation and reentry programs and services.
OSP, agency partners, and research partners work together to determine if a project has costs, what funding may be available, and possibilities for pursuing funding, if needed.
NCDAC has relevant programmatic and demographic data that the researcher/s will have access to in order to help answer the questions. Those data include, for incarcerated individuals:
- Demographic data
- Custody classification assignment data
- Disciplinary infractions
- Health-related outcomes (to a limited degree)
- Programmatic assignment, completion, and amount of program/service participation for incarcerated and community supervision populations
Data are limited for individuals under community supervision, given the lack of direct day-to-day interaction with and management of individuals; that is, community supervision involves frequent but not necessarily daily contact. Certain data points are no longer applicable (e.g., disciplinary infractions) and others are not centrally recorded in any database accessible to NCDAC (e.g., employment, healthcare visits attended). As mentioned in the Project Summary, addressing these data gaps is a desired outcome of this project.
NCDAC anticipates that qualitative components of the research partnership project may involve surveying staff and/or incarcerated and community supervised populations, focus groups, and other data collection activities. NCDAC representatives are available to discuss and develop with research partners possible approaches to efficiently gathering information and other aspects of the project.
- This project is likely to benefit from multiple researchers with different skills, expertise, and experience.
- Advanced quantitative analytical skills including multivariate analyses and predictive analytics.
- Qualitative skills including survey administration, focus group administration, and analysis of relevant results.
- Experience with criminal justice systems and/or justice-involved populations.
Open until filled. The agency will discuss with researchers the specifics, including timing of deliverables and intermediate project updates.
NC Department of Adult Correction
NC Office of Strategic Partnerships