Benchmarking Escapes: Apples, Oranges and Politics

Michael Grosberg, Cornell Companies, Inc.
Kenneth F. Pompi, Cornell Companies, Inc.

For adult correctional institutions and juvenile residential treatment facilities alike, one of the most basic and important critical indicators in risk management and evaluation of program quality is the rate of escape and absent without leave (AWOL) incidents. The rate of such incidents for a specific facility or group of facilities becomes particularly meaningful when it is compared against a benchmark, such as a national average for similar facilities.

During a recent attempt to provide such a comparison for adult and juvenile facilities operated by Cornell Companies, we discovered that the available national sources apply significantly varying definitions to escape and AWOL incidents. In this paper, the authors review the definitions used by the sources and attempt to develop a common ground to facilitate such benchmarking. The authors then compare the national data to Cornell data and discuss the politics of benchmarking in the competitive and plemicized environment faced by providers of correctional services.

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Updated 05/20/2006