Findings From a Process and Outcome Evaluation of a Prison Sex Offender Treatment Program and the Link to Program Management and Public Policy

Nicole Hetz, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice
Kerry Lowden, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice

This paper reports the findings from a comprehensive program evaluation that incorporated the concepts described in Paper #1. Funded by a grant from the U. S. Bureauof Justice Assistance, the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Research and Statistics, conducted a formal evaluation of the Sex Offender Therapeutic Community (TC) within the Colorado Department of Corrections. While Paper #2 described the comprehensive research design, this paper will discuss the process and outcome evaluation findings in the context of the strategies employed to feed back information to program managers, correctional administrators and state policy makers during a time of severe budget cuts (recognizing that the program was extremely vulnerable to staff reductions). Gaps in programming were identified and program managers immediately responded to the information by making adjustments to the program, reflecting the inherent relationship between program development (which is dynamic and ongoing), performance measures and formal evaluation. The authors also will review the recidivism analysis of over 3,000 sex offenders released from Colorado prisons since 1993. This aspect of the study examined differences between offenders who had and had not participated int reatment. The finding that sex offenders not participating iun the TC component of treatment were significantly more likely to be arrested for a violent crime within one year of release to parole supervision will be discussed. Treatment effects appear to last over six years. A discussion of the difficulties encountered when examining recidivism with this population, and how this complicates our confidence in the outcome findings, will set the stage for questions and audience interaction.

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Updated 05/20/2006