Compelling Questions for Corrections and Evidence-Based Practices

For this month’s newsletter, we thought it would be interesting for our community of readers to engage with compelling questions that effect evidence-based practices and corrections. These are questions that don’t yet have identified solutions or answers, but that are extremely important regarding matters of implementation. In our work with agencies across the country, we have found that one of the most powerful tools within any organization is the tool of active and conscious dialogue – exploring unanswered questions with colleagues to see what you can come up with collectively. As you puzzle together on these questions and their possible solutions, you create more opportunity for answers than if you were to contemplate on your own, or not contemplate at all. We invite you to engage in dialogue with yourself and your colleagues around the following questions, plus we also invite you to share your responses with us and/or questions of your own by emailing our director Brad Bogue at

Compelling Questions for Evidence-Based Practices and Corrections

Question 1) Why is it that across all psychological interventions the average effect size is so similar (i.e., .15) for the different EBP’s?

• Is there some kind of invisible ceiling or limit to how much a given population can change?

• Are we missing some huge improvements in effect sizes by not integrating multiple EBP’s into our intervention strategies?

• Can there be a better way than random control trials (RTC’s) for measuring human behavior change?

Question 2) What is the role of intrinsic (vs. extrinsic) practitioner motivation in becoming what’s referred to as “reflective practitioner”, the kind of staff that are essential for truly supporting EBP?

• Can a person be truly reflective about any given enterprise if they are not intrinsically motivated?

• In his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Robert Pirsig said that quality comes down to individual gumption – was he right? And what is gumption if not intrinsic motivation?

• How sustainable is EBP without reflective staff?

Question 3) The field of probation & parole and community corrections is generally feminizing: the proportion of officers that are female has shifted dramatically in the past 15- 20 years. It is now not uncommon to encounter probation systems where 75% or more of the officers are women. What impact or ramifications does this have regarding supervision of predominantly male populations?

• Do males or females who are being supervised respond better to female supervisors or males, or does it make any difference?

• Is there any relationship between the trend to arm probation and parole officers and the feminizations of the workforce?

• What research on this subject might be helpful for this field?

Question 4) What about an age-old question like are we our brother’s keepers?

• What macro and micro forces and influences contribute to keeping people locked up or under seeming control?

• Why are some countries like the U.S. so off the charts regarding incarceration compared to all other countries?

• What precendents are there for keeping or controlling other members of one’s species across other species in nature; are there any?

Question 5) Is corrections in the U.S. fiscally sustainable as it stands now?

• Whether corrections today costs 50 or 100 billion dollars a year is arguable, but regardless of the figure, is there sufficient Return on Investment (ROI) to keep the shrinking economy from taxing and undermining corrections services?

• If corrections is facing decades of downsizing, what can prevent this from having a corrosive effect on the remaining workforce?

Question 6) Supposing the U.S. corrections system is fundamentally unsustainable, what possible natural systems for mitigating risk might be adopted to manage our sense of law and order in a more sustainable way?

• What natural systems can replace parts of corrections?

• If corrections were to undergo deinstitutionalization on the scale of what the mental health field went through at the end of the sixties and early seventies, would there be another transmigration to another institution? And if so, which one?

• We’re beginning to get an idea for what sustainable energy and food production might look like – what would sustainable corrections look like?

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