SAGE Journal Articles

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Popovici, Ioana, Michael T. French, and James R. McKay. Economic Evaluation of Continuing Care Interventions in the Treatment of Substance Abuse. Evaluation Review 32(6): 547-568.

The chronic and relapsing nature of substance abuse points to the need for continuing care after a primary phase of treatment. This article reviews the economic studies of continuing care, discusses research gaps, highlights some of the challenges of conducting rigorous economic evaluations of continuing care, and offers research guidelines and recommendations for future economic studies in this emerging field. Rigorous economic evaluations are needed by health care providers and policy makers to justify the allocation of scarce resources to continuing care interventions. The adoption of cost-effective continuing care services can reduce long-term consequences of addiction, thereby potentially increasing overall social welfare.

Petrosino, Anthony, Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino, and James O. Finckenauer. Well-Meaning Programs Can Have Harmful Effects! Lessons from Experiments of Programs Such as Scared Straight. Crime & Delinqunecy 46(3): 354-379.

Despite their importance in assessing the impact of policies, outcome evaluations—and in particular randomized experiments—are relatively rare. The rationalizations used to justify the absence of outcome evaluations include such assertions as “we know our programs are working,” “they can't possibly harm anyone,” and “if they only help one kid they're worth it.” Using preliminary results from a systematic review of nine randomized experiments of the Scared Straight, or prison visitation program, the authors show that a popular and well-meaning program can have harmful effects. They use these results to argue for more rigorous evaluations to test criminal justice interventions.

Bergin, Tiffany. How and Why Do Criminal Justice Public Policies Spread Throughout U.S. States? Criminal Justice Policy Review 22(4): 403-421.

Why do some criminal justice public policies spread rapidly throughout U.S. states, and other policies never take hold? To answer this question, this article presents the first review specifically of studies that have examined the diffusion of criminal justice policies throughout U.S. states. After a comprehensive review of key research databases, 23 studies are identified. The key findings of these studies are analyzed in great depth, with particular reference to cross-study differences in how three variables from the general policy literature—geographic proximity, political ideology, and media attention—were operationalized. The article identifies important gaps in current knowledge about the factors that affect the diffusion of criminal justice policies and suggests several directions for future research in this area.

Salvemini, Anthony V., Eric L. Piza, Jeremy G. Carter, Eric L. Grommon, and Nancy Merritt. Integrating Human Factors Engineering and Information Processing Approaches to Facilitate Evaluations in Criminal Justice Technology Research. Evaluation Review 39(3): 308-338.

Background: Evaluations are routinely conducted by government agencies and research organizations to assess the effectiveness of technology in criminal justice. Interdisciplinary research methods are salient to this effort. Technology evaluations are faced with a number of challenges including (1) the need to facilitate effective communication between social science researchers, technology specialists, and practitioners, (2) the need to better understand procedural and contextual aspects of a given technology, and (3) the need to generate findings that can be readily used for decision making and policy recommendations.

Objectives: Process and outcome evaluations of technology can be enhanced by integrating concepts from human factors engineering and information processing. This systemic approach, which focuses on the interaction between humans, technology, and information, enables researchers to better assess how a given technology is used in practice.

Subjects: Examples are drawn from complex technologies currently deployed within the criminal justice system where traditional evaluations have primarily focused on outcome metrics. Although this evidence-based approach has significant value, it is vulnerable to fully account for human and structural complexities that compose technology operations.

Conclusions: Guiding principles for technology evaluations are described for identifying and defining key study metrics, facilitating communication within an interdisciplinary research team, and for understanding the interaction between users, technology, and information. The approach posited here can also enable researchers to better assess factors that may facilitate or degrade the operational impact of the technology and answer fundamental questions concerning whether the technology works as intended, at what level, and cost.