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 mechanism 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 research project uses a mixed methods design to evaluate the efficacy of DRCs in reducing recidivism and their economic impact on Southern California’s labor market as individuals attempt to re-enter the work force.
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) How does the type and duration of DRC services impact the region’s labor market?
2. Dispatcher Discretion: How 911 Operator Descriptions Influence Officer-Civilian Domestic Violence Exchanges
Police departments receive more calls for domestic violence (DV) related incidents than for all other violent crimes combined. The greater Los Angeles region accounts for over half of all DV incidents that occur within California. While other large cities have recently seen decreases in domestic violence related homicides, the greater Los Angeles region has experienced a nearly 12 percent increase, making domestic violence an especially dire social problem for LA region inhabitants. As first responders, police officers have the potential to provide critical resources for victims; however, DV incidents also pose a heightened risk for law enforcement officers who arrive on scene. How an officer responds is paramount since initial officer-civilian interaction can affect whether victims report subsequent abuse. Victims may choose not to call the police during future altercations if their initial interaction was negative whereas a positive interaction may facilitate the victim’s use of services and feelings of safety. To effectively provide resources to victims and to assuage further violence, police officers need to be able to identify situations that have the propensity to escalate into more violent scenarios and to prepare accordingly.
This project focuses on the role of 911 dispatchers, and how specific features of 911 DV calls (e.g. dispatcher summaries, coding and ordering of information, etc.) shape police-civilian outcomes and their degree of escalation. Drawing on one Southern California county sheriff data, this study implements a mixed-methods research design. Its objectives include: (1) quantitative analysis of data from 911 calls within this county over a 7-year period to establish which features produce escalated/de-escalated encounters, (2) qualitative data collection (interviews, observations with county deputies and dispatchers) and analysis to better understand the mechanisms, and (3) broad dissemination of the findings to practitioners, the public, and academics. This study will provide recommendations for dispatchers and officers to enhance public safety by identifying high risk DV scenarios, so they can prepare accordingly to mitigate escalation. Moreover, these findings will provide scientifically-based knowledge about how, and in what ways, dispatchers influence the degree of escalation between officers and civilians.
3. Easing Re-entry: Geospatial Mapping of Community Resources Available for the Formerly Incarcerated
Community service providers play a critical role in helping the formerly incarcerated and their families navigate the difficult re-entry process. In an era of budget constraints, community organizations play an integral role in providing resources and services to former offenders to facilitate their successful transition back into their neighborhoods by providing assistance for their education, housing, mental health needs, vocation and employment, substance abuse, and transportation services. Community service providers are an especially important player for California as community ties, familial support, and sustained employment are widely known to decrease recidivism rates.
This project develops a comprehensive model of community resources located in Riverside and San Bernardino counties using state-of-the-art geospatial mapping technologies. The key deliverable, an interactive map, will be searchable by location and/or service-type and made publicly available. Apart from being a first of its kind tool for criminal justice policy makers and practitioners, this map will provide open access for anyone interested in locating available resources, including individuals on probation and the formerly incarcerated. Once established, this information will not be contingent on a referral from a case manager, probation officer, or other member of the criminal justice community. This project will improve targeted service delivery for those in need and has the potential to be expanded to other counties within California, contingent on funding. Ultimately, this tool can be used by practitioners within the criminal justice system, as well as other stakeholders invested in successful re-entry, to make better policy decisions and help reduce recidivism.