The Presley Center currently has numerous ongoing collaborative research projects underway that advance scientific knowledge about issues related to the criminal justice system and crime generally. The empirical findings that result from these projects will additionally provide practical solutions and recommendations to agencies, insights which can be used to inform and even retool policies. The Presley Center views such projects as an extension of its three-fold mission: to use empirically based research to enhance public safety, improve the practices and operations of criminal justice agencies and practitioners, and to reduce recidivism.
1. Realignment, Re-Entry, and Recidivism: A Mixed Methods Impact Evaluation of the Riverside County Probation Department’s Day Reporting Centers
AB-109 (2011), California’s realignment legislation, transferred physical custody of non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual felon offenders (N3s) to the counties. Each county received funding from the State, but few stipulations were attached to these monies, which in turn granted counties near-unbridled discretion in developing their own custodial and post-custodial strategies to decrease recidivism and improve the reentry success of N3s. Subsequently, many counties have moved toward community corrections models, which decrease county jail populations by providing more involved supervision to individuals upon their release. This decentralization has transformed the role of probation departments (PDs) from latent supervisors to active participants in the rehabilitation and transition of individuals on parole back into their communities.
This research project is a collaboration between the Presley Center and the Riverside County Probation Department that evaluates the efficacy of the county’s Day Reporting Centers (DRCs) as an alternative to traditional custodial sentencing and as a way for reducing recidivism rates. DRCs are a community corrections program offered by probation departments that provide non-residential services to individuals upon reentry, including workforce development, substance abuse education, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The proposed project uses a mixed methods design to evaluate the efficacy of DRCs in reducing recidivism and identify the mechanisms that drive successful re-entry.
This project’s motivating questions are three-fold:
1) Do Riverside County’s DRCs reduce recidivism among parolees compared to those assigned to traditional custodial sentencing?
2) How does the type and duration of DRC services affect re-entry success and recidivism rates?
3) What mechanisms are responsible for driving DRC clients’ reentry outcomes?
*Funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (distributed by Riverside County Probation Department)
2. Easing Re-entry? Assessing and Evaluating Employment Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated in the Inland Region and Across California
In the wake of California’s prison realignment, the state invested in a collection of prison to employment (P2E) initiatives to help better support the formerly incarcerated during community re-entry. Being gainfully employed contributes to an offender’s successful re-entry, including desistance, but there are barriers to employment – on the side of the employer (e.g. hiring norms, etc.) and the individual (e.g. a lack of soft skills, education, etc.) – unique to the formerly incarcerated.
This project is an interdisciplinary effort led by the Presley Center, with UCR’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, to evaluate the P2E program, identify opportunities to better serve justice-impacted individuals through re-entry services (e.g. trainings, etc.), and to better understand the types of employers (e.g. size of company, etc.), sub-regions, and industries that are most willing to hire the formerly incarcerated. This study has two distinct research phases: (1) the first ever survey of employers in Inland California that asks about the education, skills, and training employers look for in applicants and their willingness to hire justice-impacted individuals; and (2) a statewide evaluation of the efficacy of the P2E initiative, including a comparison of employment and recidivism outcomes for those who are and are not assigned to P2E services. These insights have the capacity to refine our approach to community re-entry and are an important next step as we consider the implications of mass decarceration for policy and practice across the state.
*Funded by The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, and the California Workforce Development Board
3. Vice for Sale: Neighborhood Change and Illicit Markets
A common assumption about gentrification, buttressed by a substantial body of research, is that gentrification displaces poor and minority residents, their local businesses, and even neighborhood crime. However, questions remain about displacement and the social control mechanisms of gentrification--especially on non-violent crimes. Extending these bodies of work, Sharon Oselin and Chris Smith explore what happens to illicit markets, such as sex work and drug selling, and the individuals who participate in them when urban neighborhood revitalization occurs. Using an international comparison of two similarly sized cities – Chicago and Toronto – they rely on longitudinal neighborhood-level data to examine whether gentrification displaces illicit and associated licit “vice” markets through the enactment of formal social controls, including policing. To that end, they deploy a two-pronged research design: (1) analyze the neighborhood clustering of illicit market arrests over time to see if gentrification or other neighborhood processes move the markets within the city, and (2) track the types, number, clustering, and longevity of legal (but illicit market adjacent) businesses over time to see if they are similarly impacted by gentrification. Understanding these trends will generate important insights about the relationship and tensions between urban revitalization and illicit markets, allowing for greater clarity about shadow economic enterprise among frequently marginalized denizens. Ultimately, these findings can be leveraged to inform urban policies to prioritize public health and safety for all.