Evidence-Based Program Evaluations (PA 14-217) Study Scopes


Vocational Education in Department of Correction

The Department of Correction (DOC) was required to assess its vocational education programs for individuals in its custody and it selected the popular culinary arts program from among the many vocational education programs the department operates.  DOC contracted with the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy to collaborate on the study of the culinary arts program in DOC’s York Correctional Institution for female offenders and the Manson Youth Institution for sentenced offenders under the age of 21.  The study, submitted October 16, 2015, included focus groups and data analysis of the three-year recidivism rate of culinary arts graduates compared to program non-completers and completers of other vocational education programs.

Medication Assisted Therapy Program Department of Correction

Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) refers to the use of medication as an adjunct to cognitive behavioral therapy and other counseling to treat substance use disorders.  DOC contracted with Yale University’s School of Medicine to develop an impact analysis design as well as an availability assessment of the medication assisted therapy pilot project operated in the New Haven Correctional Center.  The study will include a review of the relevant literature, a detailed description of the MAT program, the evaluation methodology, results and conclusions.

Juvenile Parole Recidivism Scope

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Connecticut initiated a series of juvenile justice system reforms. Connecticut, at that time, was one of only three states that defined 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for the purposes of criminal justice jurisdiction. In 2007, Connecticut enacted Public Act 07-04, commonly referred to as the “Raise the Age” law that automatically shifted jurisdiction of 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system to the juvenile justice system. However, in 2009, as a result of the state budget crisis and persistent resistance from law enforcement administrators, the state legislature amended Public Act 07-4 to slow down its implementation. The amended law authorized 16-year-olds to enter the juvenile justice system on January 1, 2010 as initially planned, but delayed the entry of 17-years-olds until July 1, 2012. To date, the “Raise the Age” law has been fully implemented.

 Multidimensional Family Therapy

The Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) program is a family-based intensive outpatient treatment program developed for high-risk and drug-using adolescents.  The MDFT program focuses on an adolescent’s drug use, delinquency and other key areas of the adolescent’s life.  MDFT is a evidence-based program that has an organized structure, but allows for flexibility and customization to meet a client’s and family’s needs.  It has been validated for use as a prevention model, an early intervention approach, outpatient substance abuse treatment, partial hospitalization and day treatment model and intensive alternative to residential treatment as well as a component of residential placement services.  The MDFT model offers three key service elements by offering individual client counseling services, individual parent/guardian counseling and family counseling sessions. These MDFT sessions, when delivered with model fidelity, are geared to help restore healthy development and build positive relationships within the family dynamics and reduce substance abuse and negative behaviors.

MDFT aims to address the areas of adolescent and parent functioning that are known to create problems and to improve problem-solving skills, family and other relationships and to restore positive child development.  MDFT interventions target known risk and protective factors and processes in the adolescent and parents, in the family and in the family’s interactions with key systems such as school and juvenile justice.  The overall treatment objectives are to:

  •      Reduce drug use and behavioral problems;
  •      Create positive changes within family relational patterns;
  •      Promote involvement in pro-social activities;
  •      Improve family communication and problem-solving skills;
  •      Develop personally meaningful short- and long-term life goals; and
  •      Promote educational and vocational success.

MDFT interventions are typically provided two or three times per week in the client’s home for approximately three to six months.

Domestic Violence Perpetrator Treatment Program Evaluations (PA 13-247)

Domestic Violence Evaluation

Patrick Hynes, Ph.D., Project Coordinator, Department of Correction
Frank Baker, Ph.D. and Melissa Ives, MSW, University of Connecticut, Research Staff Ashley Provencher, Ph.D., Siena College

The seeds of this evaluation were sown several years ago when a Results First effort was established, co-chaired by Representative Toni Walker and Undersecretary of OPM Mike Lawlor.

It is best to briefly review the history of Results First.1 The Pew Center on the States (Pew) and the MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur) saw great promise in a research model developed by the State of Washington (Washington). This entailed the utilization of research to identify, “evidence-based policies that provide the best return on taxpayers’ investment.”2 Washington paid particular attention to criminal justice. Impressed with reports that Washington reduced arrests and incarceration, all the while saving a good deal of money, Pew, MacArthur, and with additional support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, set out to assist states to replicate this approach, calling this effort, “Results First.”

The Washington model includes the following steps:

  1. Analyze all available research to identify what works.
  2. Predict impacts of policy options, (such as increasing the use of a particular program).
  3. Calculate return on investment and assess investment risk.
  4. Rank programs based on costs, benefits, and risks.
  5. Identify ineffective programs to be eliminated.

Included in this approach was a description of “Monetary Benefits and Costs of Evidence-Based Public Policies.”3 A meta-analytic approach was used to calculate these results. This resulted in 18 different types of adult criminal justice programs being evaluated. Results suggested that, “Domestic Violence Perpetrator Treatment Programs” have a greater overall cost versus benefit. Thus, this analysis would lead one to believe that agencies need to explain why such a program should not be eliminated. This, in a nutshell, is the foundation for the current directive, codified into law, described next.

Evaluation of Three Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions: FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE

Stephen M. Cox, Ph.D. Professor
Pierre M. Rivolta, Ph.D. Assistant Professor


The Connecticut Judicial Branch, through its Court Support Services Division (CSSD) funds three court-mandated program options for family violence offenders: the FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE. In addition to these three court-mandated programs, a number of providers and agencies outside of CSSD engage in individual counseling and group work with family violence offenders. Public Act 13-247 An Act Implementing Provisions of the State Budget mandated, under section 53(a), that an evaluation be conducted to “…assess the effectiveness of programs maintained by [CCSD] with respect to family violence…” (i.e., FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE). Moreover, the law specified that “such assessment […] consider findings from the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative’s cost-benefit analysis model [to] determine whether any program changes may be implemented to improve the cost-effectiveness of such programs.”

The current research was conducted pursuant to the legislative requirements outlined in Public Act 13-247. Faculty from the Institute for the Study of Crime and Justice at Central Connecticut State University were contracted to evaluate the effectiveness of the Judicial Branch’s three court-mandated family violence interventions: FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE. This report presents the outcomes of this evaluation.