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Evidence-Based Practice Results - List of Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What does "evidence-based practice" mean?

The term "evidence-based practice" is used in a variety of different fields – including medicine, mental health, social services and education – to describe the adoption of strategies, interventions and programs that are informed by research.  Those programs that have been found to be effective based on the results of rigorous evaluations using experimental or quasi-experimental studies are often called "evidence-based."

Why is it important to invest in evidence-based practices and programs in the field of juvenile justice?

Over the past 15 years, rigorous evaluations have demonstrated that a very small number of rehabilitation programs actually reduce juvenile delinquency, crime and recidivism.  Implementation of these programs is important for two reasons.  First, many juvenile justice programs have little if any effect on recidivism and often make matters worse.  Second, reducing juvenile crime and recidivism holds the promise of reducing adult crime and thus our corrections crisis.  Washington State, based on a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, recently decided to invest additional public funds in evidence-based programs to reduce juvenile recidivism rather than build a new prison. 

Adopting and implementing evidence-based programs (EBPs) increases the odds that the program will work as intended and that the public good will be enhanced.  There also is greater efficiency in using limited resources on what has been proven to work as compared to what people think will work or what has traditionally been done.  Instead of putting resources toward program development, organizations can select from the growing number of EBPs, which are known to be effective and may also offer program materials, staff training and technical assistance.  Using EBPs makes efficient and effective use of limited resources.

Why is OGYVP interested in evidence-based practices?

A key goal of OGYVP is to advance the use of evidence-based practices by probation departments and other service providers within the juvenile justice community.  The literature on evidence-based practices has created confusion about which practices or programs in fact reduce recidivism.  There are multiple "lists" with varying and inconsistent terminology and criteria, and the efficacy of some of the lists warrants serious scrutiny.

To dispel the confusion, OGYVP engaged a national expert to prepare a ranked list of evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs and practices.  To compile this list, the panel of experts developed an Evidence-Based Practice Rating System, which scores programs and practices on effectiveness, ease of implementation and cost-effectiveness.  Our consultant applied this rating system to the better known programs and strategies being considered for use in juvenile justice cases today and ranked them accordingly.

This review should put an end to most of the confusion among the "dueling" lists.  It will provide California public officials and community service providers with an accurate and up-to-date list of proven and promising violence prevention and intervention programs.

To view the full report, download the PDF.


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