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How Much Does Research Influence Correctional Practice?

During our last ICPA Conference in Montreal, at the meeting of the ICPA Research & Development Network, a suggestion that was made to conduct a survey of ICPA Conference delegates using the Conference App. Terry Hackett and Rodica Popa were kind enough to assist us in doing this. We brainstormed two questions during the meeting which were then posted on the App – with some rather interesting results (see Charts below).

We had a respectable 112 delegates respond to a question on the most important research topics which should be addressed, and 99 delegates react to the question on degree of influence of research on correctional practice. For the research topics question, we had to create broad categories since the App could only accommodate up to 5 response categories. Nonetheless, the results on the most important research we should conduct were clear – Community Corrections and Reducing Reoffending (38%), with Technology & Correctional Health Care (18%) and Staff Well Being (17%) coming in close together at 2nd and 3rd. Correctional Education and Conditions of Confinement were tied at 4th place. Wanting to know more about how Community Corrections can support reducing reoffending is an obvious priority for correctional professionals attending ICPA.

Even more interesting (at least for me) were the results on the influence of research on correctional practice (asked to be rated on a scale from 0 to 100%).

We often bemoan that research has little actual influence on correctional practice. Yet, a whopping 36 % of our respondents indicated they thought research had 60% or more influence on practice, and another 25% from 41 to 60%. Only a small proportion (11%) of the respondents said that research had little influence on correctional practice (i.e., less than 20%). My surprise was that correctional professionals attending ICPA would be this positive about the influence of research. The R&D Network will be considering conducting a broader survey on this issue – and we welcome suggestions and/or volunteers who might be interested in assisting us to design a more in-depth survey on the influence of research on correctional practice.

Author: Frank Porporino, Ph.D., Chair, ICPA Research & Development Network