Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $817,496)
Home visits for offenders serving a term of probation or parole is considered a foundational practice of community corrections, yet there has been little research to evaluate its effectiveness as a tool that encourages offender compliance and reducing recidivism. In order to fill this gap in knowledge, Abt Associates will conduct a multifaceted study to assess the current home visit practices in use today and also estimate the impact of home visits on offender outcomes.
To establish the current practices in conducting probation and parole officer home visits, Abt Associates will administer surveys to all 50 state departments of correction and parole authorities, all 90 U.S. Office of Probation and Pretrial Services (OPPS) Districts, and the 50 largest probation agencies. These surveys will establish current policies regarding the frequency and nature of home visits. The sampling frame will be based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Corrections Reporting Program.
For the investigation into the effectiveness of home visits, Abt Associates will execute three separate research designs with partnering practitioner agencies. In Oklahoma, Abt Associates will implement a pairwise cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to estimate the extent to which home visits improve supervision outcomes for probationers. Community supervision officers and probationers will be randomized into groups that receive less home visits than probation-as-usual (PAU). In Ohio, Abt Associates will capitalize on a legislative mandate reducing the number of required home visits in each risk category for offenders in community supervision. Offenders will be stratified by risk category and a treatment effect will be estimated for each stratum. Finally, in the federal OPPS system Abt Associates will conduct a regression discontinuity design (RDD) to identify any difference in outcomes between offenders who are assessed at the low-end of medium risk who receive a home visit and those who are assessed at the high-end of low risk that do not receive a visit. This data will be augmented with an administrative review of the sites policies regarding home visits and also a home visit check-list to be filled out by the community supervision officer.
The primary outcomes of the quantitative analyses presented above are the number of offenders in compliance with the terms of their supervision. Secondary outcomes of active searching for employment, desistance from substance abuse, and attendance at mandated treatment programs will also be assessed. Finally, these outcomes will be considered in terms of the cost of each home visit to determine the cost effectiveness of the practice. ca/ncf