At Abt Associates, we study some of the most difficult public safety and justice issues facing the nation and offer practical solutions to policymakers, practitioners and funders. We execute research that informs real-world practices and provide technical assistance to support skill development and practice improvement. Through data-driven strategies, our work aids service providers, programs and communities.
Our community supervision expertise is enhanced by our extensive experience applying rigorous research, monitoring and evaluation techniques to a number of criminology and criminal-justice topics.
Through data-driven strategies, our work aids service providers, programs and communities in making policy decisions about community supervision practices and programs.
Our range of evidence-based techniques includes:
We offer research expertise and technical assistance on many topics relevant for community supervision. For federal, state and local clients, we apply innovative and rigorous methods to evaluate various aspects of community supervision, such as field work and reentry programming. We provide evidence-based and data-driven evaluation capacity-building training and technical assistance to programs, communities and agencies within the criminal-justice field. We assist programs and agencies with developing, designing and validating instrumentation for use when monitoring the populations they supervise. Our multi-disciplinary team of data scientists and subject-matter experts uses advanced and Abt original data systems designed to maximize clients’ monitoring and information capabilities and provide reporting and outcome assessments.
Abt received funding from NIJ to describe the varying field contact practices in probation and parole. We also evaluated their effectiveness in maintaining public safety and promoting compliance with supervision requirements. Abt conducted a nationwide survey of community supervision agencies’ field contact policies and practices. We partnered with two agencies to implement a quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of field contacts on supervision outcomes (e.g., returns to prison). We also conducted a qualitative examination of how agencies use field contacts during supervision through brief field contact checklists and interviews and focus groups with agency staff.
Abt conducts a process and implementation evaluation of Roca’s model as it continues to expand its services for high-risk young men in Massachusetts. Abt’s team provides Roca with evaluation capacity building and technical assistance. Abt will assess Roca’s implementation fidelity and identify barriers to effective model delivery in Roca’s flagship and replications sites. Abt will evaluate Roca’s success in producing intermediate outcomes among its clients. Abt is also conducting a comprehensive evaluation of Roca’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) curriculum, funded by Arnold Ventures. This mixed-method evaluation focuses on two tasks: 1) assessing the degree of implementation of CBT by youth workers and staff and determining adherence to the model as designed (fidelity assessment); and 2) assessing the impact of CBT on intended outcomes: changes in criminal thinking and in negative behavioral incidents, including arrests.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission has contracted with Abt to conduct a validation of the LS/CMI risk assessment instrument used in Oregon’s community supervision programs. This one-year study assesses the validity of the instrument in predicting recidivism in Oregon, including a quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of supervision conditions on risk scores. Specifically, it focuses on the ability of the LS/CMI to predict recidivism across the whole community supervision population and for specified crime types; examines how LS/CMI scores change over time for different populations; assesses how well risks and needs identified by the LS/CMI align with the treatment each supervisee receives; identifies the effect of treatment on recidivism; and explores variation in the quality and effectiveness of LS/CMI assessments across the state.
For the AOUSC, we assist in its implementation of a results-based management framework for evaluating the effectiveness of operations in the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office (PPSO). The ultimate goal is continuous examination and improvement of the management and performance of probation and pretrial services. This project includes supporting the technical and analytic phases of the AOUSC’s implementation of its performance management system. That includes the annual assembly of analyses files for offenders on post-conviction supervision and defendants on pretrial supervision. The project also provides continued statistical modeling and analyses, including studying the outcomes for federal defendants and offenders during supervision and post-supervision.
In a multi-jurisdictional study funded by the National Institute of Justice, Abt used a randomized controlled trial design to test the effect of caseload size and the use of evidence-based practices on recidivism outcomes for medium and high-risk probationers. In addition to the experimental design, the study team conducted a process evaluation that included a qualitative assessment of audio tapes of probation officers’ interactions with supervised probationers. Caseload size, aside from the obvious budgetary implications, has implications for public safety, officer workload and jurisdictional resources. This study provided early empirical research on the effects of caseload size on recidivism rates for medium and high-risk probationers.
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Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, harnessing the power of data and grounded insight to bring people from vulnerability to security worldwide. We think boldly to deliver solutions that cross disciplines, methods, and geographies. Abt provides impact through research, evaluation, and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development.