Applied Research Projects

Examination of the Use of Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law (CL) is an emerging alternative legal process for dispute resolution. Unlike litigation or mediation, CL does not rely upon a judge or third party mediator to settle disputes. Instead, individual parties and their respective attorneys establish formal agreements to achieve a settlement through cooperative negotiations and information sharing. Researchers at IGSR, in collaboration with the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), with funding from the State Justice Institute (SJI-10-N-146), conducted literature reviews of past CL studies and interviews and surveys of local court personnel and CL attorneys to evaluate its prospective use in Maryland. Several key barriers to broader CL practice in Maryland were identified, including a poor understanding of the CL process, a shortage of CL professionals, and a high cost of CL. The study report documents these findings and concludes with recommendations for raising public awareness and fostering the practice of CL in Maryland.

Principal Investigator: Jeanne Bilanin

Report: The Current and Prospective Use of Collaborative Law in Maryland

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Evaluation of Community Conferencing Programs

Community conferencing (CC) is a conflict resolution and restorative justice process in which people involved in a conflict participate in a facilitated meeting to discuss the conflict and reach an agreement that will repair any harm that is done. In Maryland, CC is being used in lieu of the traditional court process to bring together youth involved in conflicts that may involve or elevate to crimes such as assault or theft. Researchers at IGSR, in collaboration with the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), investigated how CC is being used for juvenile cases in programs in Baltimore City and Baltimore County and outcomes for youth who participated in the CC process. The study employed interviews with the directors, staff, and stakeholders of CC programs and analysis of program and delinquency data, including a comparison of CC participants with juvenile justice-involved youth who did not take part in community conferencing. IGSR researchers found that CC helped impede youths’ deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system and that participation was associated with lower rates of recidivism, particularly for females. Findings also showed the program has promise as a means of addressing the extensive racial disparities evident in the juvenile justice system. The study report documents these findings and concludes with recommendations for continued analysis and support of CC for youth who are or may become involved in the state’s juvenile system.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Safe Streets Grant Evaluation

Researchers at IGSR are evaluating a Safe Streets initiative of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation funded by a grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. The initiative creates Reentry Services Workgroups and Reentry Resource Guides to monitor and support recently released offenders. Partner agencies and program stakeholders include the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Howard County Detention Center, Salisbury Police Department, and Hagerstown Police Department. IGSR researchers will assist the partners in identifying appropriate performance measures and implementing processes for tracking performance.

Principal Investigator: Shawn M. Flower

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Research Partner to Maryland Project Safe Neighborhoods

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a national initiative designed to address gun and gang violence in communities disproportionately affected by these problems. It is a partnership between multiple law enforcement entities to develop, implement, and evaluate different strategies to combat violent crime involving firearms, gangs, and repeat offenders and to prosecute such crime federally, whenever possible. One PSN approach to deter past offenders from committing further offenses while encouraging these individuals to be productive members of society has been call-in meetings. High-risk offenders attend these meetings, during which law enforcement and community organizations jointly encourage these offenders to stop the perpetuation of violent crime. Researchers at IGSR, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, will be evaluating the effectiveness of PSN call-in meetings held in several Maryland police jurisdictions by direct observation, in-depth interviews, and outcome data analysis. The insights gained through this study will be invaluable to determining future PSN efforts and ultimately to improving crime prevention measures.

Principal Investigator: Jeanne Bilanin

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Evaluation of Models for Change

Models for Change (MfC) is an initiative funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to accelerate a national juvenile justice reform movement to improve the lives of young people in trouble with the law, while enhancing public safety and holding young offenders accountable for their actions. MfC seeks to make juvenile justice systems more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate through the use of evidence-based practices and tools. IGSR, in partnership with Mathematica, is implementing a comprehensive, mixed methods evaluation of MfC initiatives in more than a dozen jurisdictions across the country, including comprehensive statewide efforts in four states (Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington). Evaluation findings will be instrumental in identifying effective reform strategies and replicating similar programs, practices, and tools throughout the United States.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Evaluation of the AVATAR Substance Abuse Treatment Program

Outpatient substance use disorder treatment typically entails a series of sessions held between a counselor and clients for the purpose of supporting sobriety and recovery. Although outpatient treatment programs offer greater affordability, flexibility, and privacy than traditional inpatient programs, significant barriers to treatment remain including negative social attitudes and inaccessibility of treatment. Avatar-assisted therapy, a newly developed interactive online treatment platform, seeks to address these barriers. Maryland’s Behavioral Health Administration in collaboration with a private treatment provider piloted use of avatar-assisted treatment for individuals with substance use disorders, and IGSR is evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot program.

Principal Investigators: Jeanne Bilanin and Stephan Sherman

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Use of Advanced Computer Analytics to Research Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Through a seed grant from the University of Maryland Division of Research, IGSR and University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) are exploring the use of next generation computer analytic methods to study outcomes of substance use disorder treatment. This in-depth retrospective analysis employs an existing database of client treatment records in the State of Maryland Automated Tracking (SMART) system and enables researchers to examine how multiple client and treatment variables affect the outcome of therapy. The project will test the use of cutting-edge computer analytic tools to gain insights regarding treatment of heroin addiction.

Principal Investigator: Jeanne Bilanin

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Use of Virtual Reality Technology in Treatment of Reentering Offenders

IGSR and University of Maryland’s Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion Research (CAPER) are testing the use of avatar-assisted therapy for substance use disorder treatment with individuals reentering the community from incarceration. This innovative pilot study, funded by a seed grant from the University’s Division of Research, will not only serve to generate valuable preliminary data for future investigations, but also lay the foundation for future substance use disorder interventions geared toward providing greater accessibility and retention among individuals of this highly stigmatized, vulnerable population.

Principal Investigator: Jeanne Bilanin

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Evaluation of Truancy Interventions

IGSR, in collaboration with the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), with funding from the State Justice Institute conducted a process and outcome evaluation of the school-based Truancy Court Program (TCP) in Baltimore City. TCP, which is operated by the Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) at the University of Baltimore School of Law, is a voluntary, 10-week, in-school intervention for students who are beginning to demonstrate a pattern of truancy. The program emphasizes mentoring and service referral for student participants and their parents/guardians. Judges volunteer their time to conduct mock court sessions in participating schools, monitor student progress, and provide encouragement to participants and their families. The TCP team also includes school-based representatives, CFCC staff and law students. The evaluation found that merely participating in TCP did not result in improved student attendance, but that graduation from the program was associated with improved attendance. IGSR also partnered with AOC to synthesize the results of the TCP evaluation with results of evaluations of a court-based truancy intervention, the Truancy Reduction Pilot Program (TRPP) in the First Judicial Circuit, and a mediation intervention, Baltimore Students: Mediation about Reducing Truancy (B-SMART) in Baltimore City schools.

Principal Investigator: Jeanne Bilanin
Co-Principal Investigator: C. David Crumpton

Report: Assessing School Attendance Problems and Truancy Intervention in Maryland: A Synthesis of Evidence from Baltimore City and the Lower Eastern Shore

Report: Evaluation of the Truancy Court Program in Baltimore City

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Adult Drug Court Assessments

With funding from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, IGSR is conducting a statewide comparative analysis of 11 large, representative adult drug courts in Maryland. IGSR is researching program outcomes and identifying the drug court client characteristics and practices contributing to participant successes and failures. The analysis uses both drug court program data and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration treatment data, both stored in the Statewide Maryland Automated Record Tracking (SMART) system, as well as official criminal record data from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to compare factors affecting participant outcomes. Participant outcomes include rates of program retention and completion, substance abuse, and criminal recidivism. Additionally, a cost-benefit study of two adult drug court programs (Anne Arundel County Circuit and Carroll County Circuit Court) compared with two business-as-usual comparison samples is being conducted. A pre/post analysis in four Maryland drug courts (Baltimore City, Carroll County, Cecil County, and Wicomico County), which are implementing operational improvements/enhancements is also being completed. The pre/post research will assess whether the enhancements in the four courts helped the programs reach or exceed their program capacities and also determine whether the enhancements had any impact on participant outcomes. The research is being conducted under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), with funding provided to AOC's Office of Problem Solving Courts by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young
Co-Principal Investigator: Benjamin Falls

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Comparative Analyses of Four Juvenile Drug Court Programs

The Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts is funding a comparative analyses of four juvenile drug court programs. Under this grant, IGSR is conducting a comparative analysis of four large, representative juvenile drug courts programs in the state. Researchers are looking at program outcomes and identifying drug court characteristics and practices contributing to participant success and failure. The analysis uses drug court program data and Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) treatment data stored in the Statewide Maryland Automated Record Tracking (SMART) system, as well as official delinquency data from the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to compare factors affecting outcomes. Participant outcomes include rates of program retention and completion, substance abuse, and criminal recidivism. IGSR is also conducting a cost-benefit study of one juvenile drug court program (Prince George’s County) compared to a business-as-usual comparison sample. The research is being funded by the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young
Co-Principal Investigator: Benjamin Falls

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Evaluation of Second Chance Act Technology Careers Grant Program

IGSR conducted a process and outcome evaluation of the Second Chance Act Technology Careers Program implemented by Maryland Correctional Education within the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), under a grant from the U.S. (Bureau of Justice Assistance. The program, located at the Maryland Correctional Training Center (MCTC), enabled inmates being released to Baltimore City to obtain Desktop User Specialist (DUS) certificates and letters of recognition as Administrative Assistants. To conduct this evaluation, IGSR created data collection tools for the correctional facility and a follow-up service provider, Our Daily Bread Employment Center (ODBEC). Using data provided by DLLR, MCTC, and the service providers, the evaluation team found that participating inmates were very satisfied with the program. In addition, among those released and engaged by ODBEC, 62% were placed into an internship, and 87% were employed. Finally, among the 12 DUS participants released at least one year prior to the end the program, 92% did not return to prison during the year.

Principal Investigator: Shawn M. Flower

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Monitoring Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) in Baltimore City and Montgomery County

IGSR is currently collaborating with the Family League of Baltimore City to monitor disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in Baltimore City and Montgomery County. Data collected from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and local police departments will be used to complete quarterly reports on demographic, geographic, and offense characteristics of youth at multiple stages of the juvenile justice system. The goal is to provide jurisdictions with the information they need to identify and address problem stages in the system, as well as to allow them to monitor changes in trends over time.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

Report: Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Maryland Juvenile Justice System

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Evaluating Efforts to Reconnect Detained Youth to their Families and Communities

IGSR was awarded funding from the Family League of Baltimore City to evaluate two programs: the Education Placement Team (EPT) Project and the Parent Empowerment Project (PEP). The main goal of these two programs is to reconnect youth with their families and communities and to diminish the potentially harmful effects of detention. The EPT program is designed to ensure that youth who leave secure detention in Baltimore City are assessed and placed in appropriate schools within five days of release. Using program and juvenile justice data, IGSR will examine how processing and programmatic factors have affected reconnection rates over time. The second program, PEP, targets low-risk youth who are detained solely because their parents or guardians lack the ability to pick them up from custody. Using program and juvenile justice data, IGSR will provide the risk profiles of program participants and will evaluate the impact of PEP on future outcomes, including placements and re-referrals.

Principal Investigator: Sara Betsinger
Co-Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Evaluation of the Glen Burnie District Court Self-Help Center

With funding from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), IGSR is evaluating the Self-Help Center (SHC) at the Glen Burnie District Court, which assists self-represented litigants in civil cases. A variety of measures are being used to collect data for this project including baseline questionnaires of litigants, client surveys and interviews, staff and stakeholder interviews and surveys, and extensive case information on clients and comparison litigants. Both process and outcome indicators are being assessed in the evaluation, including data on reaching target goals regarding numbers and types of cases using the center, clients' satisfaction and understanding of their cases after receiving center help, as well as staff and stakeholder perceptions of the SHC and SHC clients.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young
Co-Principal Investigator: Benjamin Falls

Report: Evaluation of the Glen Burnie District Court Self-Help Center

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Criminal Justice Researcher - Practitioner Fellowship Placement Program - Enhancing the Judiciary’s Role in Child Welfare: Promoting Interagency Collaboration and Best Practices

Awareness about the vulnerabilities of children who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems has grown significantly over the past decade. However, these "crossover youth" remain a unique challenge for these systems and their partners in service delivery. A crucial step in addressing this challenge is developing tools and implementing evidence-based practices that are tailored to identify and attend to the needs of crossover youth. IGSR, with support from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ 2010-JB-FX-006), reviewed local and state practices pertaining to crossover youth and performed extensive analyses comparing the experiences and outcomes of crossover youth with youth in Maryland’s dependency and delinquency systems who are not dually-involved. The findings of this study suggest that while several crossover youth-specific practices are in place, there is need for a more focused, unified response by welfare and juvenile justice systems. The study also highlights the importance of addressing the mental health treatment needs of crossover youth. Taken together, the results of this study should heighten the urgency of increasing attention and efforts to aid this underserved population.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Assessment and Referral Technologies in Juvenile Justice

An extensive body of literature has shown that youth involvement in the juvenile justice system has deleterious effects on their development into productive adults. Youth in correctional settings also have rates of substance abuse and mental health disorders that far exceed those in the general adolescent population. Considerable research effort has been devoted to establishing a consensus around a core set of evidence-based practices (EBPs) that are effective with delinquent youth. However, within this picture of progress, there is a notable absence of understanding about the adoption and implementation of EBPs among probation and aftercare/parole officers who are responsible for supervising these youth. IGSR, in collaboration with George Mason University researchers and with support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, RO1 DA18759), tested the impact of different technology transfer strategies aimed at improving implementation of evidence-based supervision practices with probation/parole case managers (PCMs). Employing a controlled design, researchers compared outcomes of youth under the supervision of: (1) PCMs who had received standard training in juvenile assessment, referral, treatment planning, and placement (JARPP); (2) PCMs who had training enhanced by the inclusion of peer coaches who provided internal support for practice implementation; and (3) a no-training PCM group. Results for 1,518 youth in two follow-up cohorts tracked over 12 months indicate those supervised in the enhanced sites show a pattern of reduced recidivism compared to those in the standard and control sites. Several papers published on the project document these and related findings on EBP implementation and their implications for supporting advances in training line staff in modestly funded, inexpertly staffed corrections agencies serving high-risk youth.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Department of Juvenile Services: Development of Risk Assessment Tools

The purpose of this project was to provide technical assistance to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) in the area of risk assessment. DJS collects risk and needs data as part of its standard operating procedures for all youth referred to the department. These data, combined with official records outcome data (recidivism, court appearance, and compliance with supervision), are used to develop validated risk assessment tools in order to provide empirically-based guidance to decision makers at each stage of the DJS process (intake, adjudication, housing, and reassessment during aftercare/parole).

IGSR's role is to provide data analysis and background research to the DJS personnel who are responsible for devising and implementing the risk assessment tools. IGSR validated risk items at each stage of the process and assisted in the development of the risk assessment tools. Additionally, IGSR assisted in the development of processes for monitoring the implementation of the tools.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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eCourt: A Web-Based Management Information System for Drug Courts

With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, IGSR developed and tested the eCourt system, a web-based computerized management information system designed for use by drug courts nationally and built upon the Maryland SMART/ Drug Court system. The eCourt system was piloted and evaluated in eight courts across the country. The eCourt initiative addresses practical needs involving federal monitoring and reporting on drug courts while also building basic knowledge about technology transfer and the role of technology in advancing program implementation and effectiveness.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young

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Information to Power Innovation in Maryland (IPIM) Substance Abuse Treatment

In the Information to Power Innovation in Maryland (IPIM) project, IGSR researchers developed and tested a substance-abuse practice improvement system in several treatment provider sites around the state. The Feedback Assessment and Capabilities System (FACS) employs data available from the SMART IT system and organizational surveys administered to managers and staff. Program administrators and staff in four sites participated in a training workshop devoted to reviewing their site's FACS results regarding use of evidence-based practices and organizational strengths and weaknesses. Workshop attendees developed action plans to address the FACS results. Researchers have tracked staff participation in the protocol and progress on action plans and are comparing the impacts of the protocol at the four experimental sites and four control sites on client retention, staff-reported practices, and organizational measures of effectiveness.

Principal Investigator: Douglas Young
Co-Principal Investigator: Jayme Delano

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