Evidence-Based Practices

"Sustaining Evidence-Based Practices"

Justice Research and Statistics Association. December 2015.


“Voluntary Adoption of Evidence-Based Practices by Local Law Enforcement: Eyewitness Identification Procedures in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska” 

McNabb, Neal and Farrell, Brian Richard and Brown Carlee. Results First Initiative. May 3, 2016.

Abstract: Eyewitness misidentification has played a role in over seventy percent of DNA exonerations in the United States, making it a leading contributor to wrongful convictions. Though the importance of eyewitness testimony in criminal investigations is undeniable, the reliability of both human memory and the procedures traditionally used by law enforcement for making identifications have been called into question in recent decades. In 1999 the National Institute of Justice released a report that included a set of recommendations and encouraged law enforcement agencies to consider the voluntary adoption of several reforms of traditional eyewitness identification practices in order to increase the overall reliability of the identifications made in their agencies. These recommendations were based on social science research (i.e. evidence-based practices) and were supported by a consistent body of empirical findings that have continued to be bolstered by additional research, including a 2014 report by the National Academy of Sciences. In 2013, in conjunction with the NIJ, the Police Executive Research Forum conducted a national survey of law enforcement agencies in order to determine the extent to which these recommendations had been adopted in state and local agencies. The study concluded that most law enforcement “agencies have not fully implemented all of the recommendations from the NIJ Guide.”  This article examines local law enforcement eyewitness identification procedures in a five-state region of the Midwest consisting of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Part I begins by providing background on the use of eyewitness identification and issues commonly associated with misidentifications. It identifies reforms that have been proposed to increase the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness identifications and explains the legal framework for use of this evidence. Part II provides a glimpse at the state of reforms nationally by summarizing the 2013 PERF survey on the adoption of best practices by law enforcement and presenting procedural reforms in the states. Next, Part III presents data from a recent study which assessed the eyewitness identification procedures used by local law enforcement agencies in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. It then examines recent policy developments in each of these states. Finally, Part IV gauges opportunities for collaboration, education, and evidence-based policy reform at the local level.

"Implementation Oversight for Evidence Based Programs: A Policymaker’s Guide to Effective Program Delivery.”

Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. May 3, 2016.

Abstract: There is a growing consensus that rigorous evidence and data can and should be used, whenever possible, to inform critical public policy and budget decisions. In areas ranging from criminal justice to education, government leaders are increasingly interested in funding what works, while programs that lack evidence of their effectiveness are being carefully scrutinized when budgets are tightened. As the use of evidence-based interventions becomes more prevalent, there is an increasing recognition that it will be critical to ensure that these programs are effectively delivered. Government leaders can best ensure that they see the benefits of evidence-based programs by building capacity that supports effective implementation. This publication examines  four key steps for state and local government personnel.

“The Effects of Focused Deterrence Strategies on Crime.”

Braga, Anthony and Weisburd, David. The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 49(3):323-358. August 2012.

Abstract: Focused deterrence strategies are increasingly being applied to prevent and control gang and group-involved violence, overt drug markets, and individual repeat offenders. Given the growing popularity of this approach, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the extant evaluation evidence is needed to determine the crime reduction benefits of the approach. Methods. Our examination of the effects of focused deterrence strategies on crime followed the systematic review protocols and conventions of the Campbell Collaboration. As a preliminary examination of the effects of focused deterrence strategies on crime, the authors used a vote counting procedure. In our closer examination of program effects, meta-analyses were used to determine the size, direction, and statistical significance of the overall impact of focused deterrence strategies on crime. Results. We identified 10 quasi-experimental evaluations and 1 randomized controlled trial. Our meta-analysis suggests that focused deterrence strategies are associated with an overall statistically significant, medium-sized crime reduction effect. However, the strongest program effect sizes were generated by evaluations that used the weakest research designs. Conclusion. The authors conclude that this approach seems very promising in reducing crime but a more rigorous body of evaluation research needs to be developed. While the results of this review are very supportive of deterrence principles, the authors believe that other complementary crime control mechanisms are at work in the focused deterrence strategies described here that need to be highlighted and better understood.

“Focused Deterrence of High-Risk Individuals.”

Scott, Michael. Smart Policing Initiative. July 2017.

Overview: Focused deterrence is a crime reduction strategy in which carefully selected high-risk offenders (prolific or particularly violent criminal offenders) receive concentrated law enforcement attention and, simultaneously, offers of concentrated social services through direct, persuasive communication and rigorous follow-up of these commitments.1 Focused-deterrence initiatives (FDIs) commonly include such aspects as identification of prolific offenders, scripted offender notification meetings, coordinated and strategic prosecution, provision of social services to individuals willing to accept them, and careful monitoring of individuals’ actions. They are not merely enforcement crackdowns or a method of making life difficult for selected individuals.

“Hot Spots of Crime and Place-Based Prevention.”

Weisburd, D. (2018), Criminology & Public Policy, 17: 5–25. doi:10.1111/1745-9133.12350. Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: The August Vollmer Award Address is intended to focus on contributions to justice and on the recipient's research and policy experiences. This contribution begins with the recipient recapping his personal journey to recognizing hot spots of crime and their importance for prevention. He then goes on to summarize the “law of crime concentration” and its importance for the logic model underlying this approach. He describes the seminal Minneapolis Hot Spots Patrol Experiment and the subsequent evaluation research in hot-spots policing and place-based prevention more generally that led to its broad acceptance as an effective crime prevention strategy. Finally, the author turns to key unanswered questions in place-based prevention, focusing on police legitimacy, identifying jurisdictional effects, and emphasizing the importance of harnessing informal social controls.

“Replication in Criminology and the Social Sciences.”

William Alex Pridemore, Matthew C. Makel, and Jonathan A. Plucker. Annu. Rev. Criminol. 2018. 1:19–38

Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: Replication is a hallmark of science. In recent years, some medical sciences and behavioral sciences struggled with what came to be known as replication crises. As a field, criminology has yet to address formally the threats to our evidence base that might be posed by large-scale and systematic replication attempts, although it is likely we would face challenges similar to those experienced by other disciplines. In this review, we outline the basics of replication, summarize reproducibility problems found in other fields, undertake an original analysis of the amount and nature of replication studies appearing in criminology journals, and consider how criminology can begin to assess more formally the robustness of our knowledge through encouraging a culture of replication.

“The Feasibility, Appropriateness, Meaningfulness, and Effectiveness of Parenting and Family Support Programs Delivered in the Criminal Justice System: A Systematic Review.”

Troy, V., McPherson, K.E., Emslie, C. et al. J Child Fam Stud (2018). Accessed March 8, 2018

Abstract: Children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system (CJS) are at increased risk of developing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties and are more likely than their peers to become involved in the CJS themselves. Parenting behavior and parent-child relationships have the potential to affect children’s outcomes with positive parenting practices having the potential to moderate some of the negative outcomes associated with parental involvement in the CJS. However, many parents in the CJS may lack appropriate role models to support the development of positive parenting beliefs and practices. Parenting programs offer an opportunity for parents to enhance their parenting knowledge and behaviors and improve relationships with children. Quantitative and qualitative evidence pertaining to the implementation and effectiveness of parenting programs delivered in the CJS was included. Five databases were searched and a total of 1145 articles were identified of which 29 met the review inclusion criteria. Overall, programs were found to significantly improve parenting attitudes; however, evidence of wider effects is limited. Additionally, the findings indicate that parenting programs can be meaningful for parents. Despite this, a number of challenges for implementation were found including the transient nature of the prison population and a lack of parent-child contact. Based on these findings, recommendations for the future development and delivery of programs are discussed.