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Transcript: NIJ FY 2023 Research and Evaluation on Correctional Culture and Climate Solicitation Webinar

Deadline Notice

The deadline for the solicitation "NIJ FY23 Research and Evaluation on Correctional Culture and Climate" has passed. 

On June 7, 2023, NIJ held a webinar to provide information about the "NIJ FY23 Research and Evaluation on Correctional Culture and Climate" solicitation. Following is the transcript from that webinar.

Download the slide presentation.


STACY LEE: Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us for the National Institute of Justice Fiscal Year 2023 Research and Evaluation on Correctional Culture and Climate Solicitation Webinar. It's my pleasure to introduce Dr. Marie Garcia, Director of the Office of Criminal Justice Systems at the National Institute of Justice.

MARIE GARCIA: Great. Thank you, Stacy, and thanks to everyone for joining us today. As Stacy mentioned, my name is Marie Garcia and I'm a Scientist and Office Director here at NIJ, and I want to welcome you to our webinar on the Research and Evaluation on Correctional Culture and Climate. During today's webinar, we're going to discuss several elements of this solicitation and answer any questions that you might have. But before we get started, I'm pleased to welcome NIJ Director Nancy La Vigne, who'll provide opening remarks. And I also want to recognize our two new members of Team NIJ, Dr. Danielle Crimmins and Dr. Kyleigh Clark-Moorman, who are with us today. Before we get started, I'd like to turn it over to you, Director La Vigne.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Thank you, Dr. Garcia, and welcome everyone. I am so excited about this research solicitation. One of the many great things about being in this role is working with team members here at NIJ to identify gaps in research and develop solicitations to welcome people to propose ways to fill those gaps.

And my interest in this topic dates back to very early on in my career when I didn't even identify as a researcher, really. I was working for a sentencing commission in Texas and it was my very first time entering a prison. I was part of a delegation with the commissioners and we were in a brand new facility that the warden was extremely proud of. And he was showing us around and boasting about the natural lighting and the landscaping, which was modest but more than you see in a lot of prisons. One of the commissioners, who happened to be the prosecutor in the bunch, said to the warden, "I don't understand: why is this so nice? I mean, don't we send people away to punish them?" And the warden very patiently explained that people work in these facilities as well and they deserve to have pleasant environments, and, you know, that's actually essential to retaining staff. It was the first time that I ever recognized that prisons are holistic environments that affect everyone who works in them and is confined in them, regardless of what you think the purpose of incarceration is.

I think this is an important consideration that really speaks to the importance of understanding the nature of correctional culture and climate and how it affects the experiences of being incarcerated and experiences of working in correctional environments and how the two intersect because we know that they do. Now, early studies in this space have mostly just looked at issues around correctional culture and what makes for cultural issues or perceptions - a lot around cultural stressors that contribute to culture. I can't think of one that looks at the role that climate plays in one's experience in participating in rehabilitative programming in correctional settings. So, for example, if you’re scared for your safety, if there's poor air quality, if there's no air conditioning and you're sweltering or you're freezing cold, if you don't get a lot of those basic needs met, are you really bringing your best self to any kind of program, regardless of how excellent it may be? We don't know that.

We know in the present day, there're new efforts to try to transform correctional environments that are akin to some of the examples we see in European and Scandinavian countries. We're learning more but we know little about the models and how they're implemented and what kind of impacts they're yielding. And we also know that issues of staff recruitment and particularly retention in the correctional space are such a huge pain point and one that we know is related to the experience that people have once they start the profession. We know that recruitment is challenging for all manner of criminal justice areas these days, but the retention piece rests heavily on the culture and climate of the institution. So all of that are reasons why we came together as a team here at NIJ and drafted this solicitation.

I know it has a lot of parts to it and it's complicated. And there's a lot that's kind of bidirectional: like does culture and climate cause staff retention or vice versa and how does it relate to all these other factors? But that's why we're inviting you to bring your best ideas to the fore. As you begin to write your proposals, I would like it if you could keep some things in mind that are embedded this solicitation and nearly all others that we're releasing in this fiscal year and that are the priorities that we're putting forth at NIJ, the first of which is to invite proposals with research methodologies that are inclusive in nature. It takes the time to include components that are authentically engaging with the people who are closest to the issue or the problem under study, in this case correctional staff of all stripes and people who are incarcerated in prison, maybe even their families, who knows?

A second priority is that research should be approached through a racial equity lens of really understanding whether there are biases in our methodologies on how we're reaching people and the data that we're using and ways to mitigate those biases as well as identify them through the course of the evaluation work.

And speaking of evaluation, we are also prioritizing evaluations that include a strong implementation component and not be solely around impact. It should involve an action research model where you're not just collecting data and then coming back three years later and saying whether something works or not, but are feeding that information back in real time to help improve the program as it is being evaluated.

Multidisciplinary research teams are another key priority for us. We know that in the academic world, we tend to be quite siloed, but we think it's important that we tear down those barriers and create teams that are multidisciplinary. We think that it makes for a much better, more rigorous, and more nuanced research.

And, finally, dissemination is a key priority for us and that we will be giving preference to proposals that have robust dissemination plans. I know that Marie is going to dig into a lot more details on this solicitation but I'm here today to affirm that this is a priority for us, that we're looking forward to the proposals that you submit, and I will be remaining on to help field questions with Marie at the end of this presentation. Thank you.

MARIE GARCIA: Great. Thank you so much, Director La Vigne, for your remarks and for making this much easier for me today. As the director mentioned, this solicitation is specifically focused on the impact of culture and climate in the correctional setting, but, specifically, we're really interested in understanding the impact of these two dimensions on the ability of agencies to achieve their missions. We're also very interested in how culture and climate impact accountability and transparency of correctional agencies and institutions.

With this solicitation, we have three primary focus areas. The safety, health, and wellness of correctional staff and incarcerated persons. You'll note in the solicitation that we have examples of areas of interests for NIJ, including conditions of confinement, decreasing violence and disorder, and decreasing self-harm and deaths in custody.

The second focus area is issues of correctional agency staffing, retention, and training as they pertain to correctional culture and the well-being of staff and incarcerated persons. Here, we're interested in changes to culture and climate and, again, it's impact on staffing and retention. The Director mentioned these are key pain points for correctional agencies currently. And we're also interested in retention rates and separations from an agency and vice versa.

The third focus area, strategies that promote and sustain needed change in the organizational culture of corrections agencies. Here, we're focused on the alignment of an agency's culture and climate and its mission and the impact of culture and climate on service deliveries. We're also interested in the perceptions of culture and climate and how they impact policy and practice and their implementation.

Now, you'll note in this solicitation, we offer definitions for both culture and climate. However, you are encouraged to use those provided in the solicitation or to define culture and climate with your partner agencies in your Program Narrative. As the Director mentioned, we have a primary focus on dissemination. Part of the dissemination strategy includes a number of deliverables that are due to NIJ at the conclusion of a grant. These include standard grant reporting requirements, for instance our semi-annual research performance progress reports. These are submitted twice a year and this is your opportunity as a grantee to provide information to NIJ about the progress of your project. Any concerns that you might have, any potential scope changes or challenges that NIJ can assist you with, you would provide those in the progress report. You'll also be required to provide quarterly financial reports.

At the end of your project, you would be required to provide a Final Research Report. Now, this specific deliverable is really important because this is our opportunity to provide our stakeholders with information about your project. This provides an overview of your project. As the director mentioned, we're very interested in having interim project findings published along the way. The Final Research Report is a reflection and an overview of the entire project that was funded by NIJ. Associated data sets or files are also required deliverables. Any and all information collected on behalf of our funds are required to come back to NIJ.

We do this for a number of reasons, but, primarily, we would like the information to be made publicly available. So for those individuals who might be interested in doing secondary data analysis, we want to make our data available to all interested parties. And, as I mentioned, scholarly products. We highly encourage our grantees to disseminate findings along the way with interim reports, going to conferences, again publishing in journals. Anything that you can do to get the word out about your project and your great findings, we highly encourage that here at NIJ.

You'll note in the solicitation, that we have several critical elements, and those are the Program Narrative, and this is where you will describe, again, your research questions, the potential impacts of the research on culture and climate, a description of your team, and your partners for the project. Also required is your budget. You need both a web-based form and then we need a detailed narrative about all of your costs and expenses. Every dollar requested for the project should have a narrative about how you intend to use it with all the math behind it. You should also include curriculum vitaes or resumes for key personnel. Now, the solicitation is very specific about who is considered key personnel, so please be mindful about who the key staff are on your team and be sure that their vitaes are uploaded as part of the application.

Also, there are a number of required forms that are part of the application submission process. The SF-424 gives us basic information about your project. And we also have a series of lobbying and other disclosure forms. And those are all part of the application submission that you'll note when applying for one of our grants.

You'll note in the solicitation, we have a two-step application submission protocol. The first is a submission of your intent to apply in Grants.gov. And you'll note here the deadline for the Grants.gov is August 7. This is two weeks before the closure of the solicitation. If you do intend to submit, please be mindful that there is an initial deadline of August 7. Now, the final deadline is August 21. You will submit your materials to JustGrants. And this is the full application, including all attachments, appendices, vitaes, budgets, everything that we would need as part of our application process to give you a full review. In the solicitation, you will see the specific link as well so that you can register to submit your application.

As part of the application process, we conduct a basic minimum requirement (BMR) determination. As I mentioned, there are four basic minimum requirements. We absolutely must have those four requirements in order to move your proposal forward to peer review. Once we get through the BMR process, we move all of the eligible applications to an external expert review panel. Now, here we have technical and practitioner experts from the field with expertise in corrections culture and climate in all correctional settings. And our reviewers provide independent scores and comments to NIJ about the general proposal, the quality and the rigor of the proposal. This information is submitted to NIJ and then we do our own internal review here at the office. We have a number of scientists, including my colleagues that are on the phone today, who are experts in the area and they will review the proposals and give them another perspective outside of the technical expert panel. NIJ leadership will also review the applications, as well as other federal subject matters experts. As part of this solicitation, we have some focus areas on federal corrections. So in that instance, we may have our federal partners from the Bureau of Prisons review those particular proposals as well. Very importantly, all funding decisions are made at the discretion of the NIJ Director. So please do get your proposal in and make sure that you meet the BMR so we can give your proposal a thorough review.

Part of what I'd like to provide today is just some common critiques that are raised during the peer review process that you can be mindful of when drafting and submitting your proposal. With regards to Statement of the Problem, oftentimes we see applicants that fail to identify gaps in the literature. By releasing this solicitation, NIJ understands there are issues in culture and climate that we would like to address, so we also need your literature review to support the research that you're proposing. Please be mindful of that.

Again, similarly, the literature review is insufficient. We understand there are limitations to the proposal. It's 30 pages so you only have so much valuable space to provide everything that we need as part of the proposal. But please be mindful that the lit review, again, should identify the gaps that you hope to address with the proposal. And another problem that we have found over the years is that the scope of work proposed is either really limited or too ambitious. Now, again, we understand that it's really difficult. We have a certain amount of money that we can provide through the solicitation, but, again, please be mindful of what you want to do with this project and the impact that it may have for the field.

With regards to the Research Design, one of the common mistakes that we see is that the strategy is not well articulated. If the information that we need to make a determination about the rigor of a project is not in there, then we can't make assumptions. Be very thorough and detailed as possible when outlining your Research Design. Also check on the criterion and the percentage of points allocated to these specific areas. This will inform you where our primary focus and interest is. Again, with regards to the Research Design, we often see that the research methods and the approach aren't logical or they are unclear. Again, we don't want to make assumptions about the project that you're proposing, so please be very clear and articulate your methods for the reviewers and for NIJ.

One thing that we highly encourage is a power analysis. We often see sample sizes that would not be supported or provide rigorous findings so please be mindful of that. If you can provide that information in your proposal, that's a great of piece of information for the reviewers and NIJ to have to look at.

And just generally that the project isn't feasible. We understand that this is a very important issue in corrections, but please be mindful of your strategy and how you'd like to move forward with your design and then the overall project.

With regards to capabilities and competencies, some critiques that are typically raised is that the staff that are proposed as part of the key personnel or just the team in general don't have familiarity or proficiency with the proposed methods. Now, that is not to say that you cannot bring on experts to support your team. However, we want to make sure that if you're doing complicated analyses, that you have the staff and the resume support that they also have those skills and expertise.

Another critique that we see from peer reviewers is that the project team does not have the necessary subject matter experts. Now, given that this is a corrections-focused solicitation, we absolutely should see corrections personnel and practitioners and scholars as part of your application team. That is not to mean it should be limited to corrections, however, you want to make sure that you have the right experts onboard as part of your team.

Now, with regards to potential impact, as the Director mentioned at the top of this conversation and as I have mentioned maybe once or twice that dissemination is critically important to NIJ. We want to make sure that your findings are provided to the communities and stakeholders that are really in need of this information. Part of that is providing a really detailed and innovative plan to get the word out about your research. So, again, be very thoughtful, be innovative about electronic media and other types of sources that you could use to disseminate the information about your project. We welcome and encourage incredibly innovative ideas. And, again, one critique that we see more often than we'd like is that there is no plan for reaching non-academic audiences. This is a corrections-focused plan. We have a lot of stakeholders in the field who really need this information and who are really focused on changing the culture and climate in their institutions. We really need the dissemination plan to reach those audiences. Now, publishing in the peer-reviewed journal is great, however, there are also trade journals to consider as well. Again, just be really thoughtful about how your message gets out and who it gets to. These are really critical things to consider when drafting your dissemination plan.

Now, some tips. And some of these might be obvious but I'd like to go over them anyway. With your proposal, please be sure that it's well-written. We hear a lot of critiques from our reviewers who say, "Copy edits weren't done," or, "There's a lot of grammatical and structural mistakes." Please take the time to provide your best foot forward with your narrative.

Again, innovation, especially with regards to dissemination. We want to make sure that the proposal is rigorous and it's timely and that findings are going to get to the right audience.

Importantly, we want to make sure that we're funding rigorous and well-designed research and that the research is feasible.

As I mentioned, we want to make sure that your findings get to the right audience and we want to make sure that it has an impact to them. So please be very thoughtful about how your research questions and what could come after would be helpful to the corrections community writ large.

As part of the application, we also require a Research/Evaluation Integrity and Independence Statement. There is guidance in the solicitation about what to include here. Again, please be sure to include this as part of your application and Letters of Support. Now, we recognize that a 90-day solicitation is not a lot of time when you have to coordinate potential subcontractors and consultants and working with your organization to upload your proposal. However, Letters of Support with your partners is incredibly, incredibly important for us to understand that you have a firm commitment from your corrections partners to participate in this research. We do understand that things happen and we experienced that as well during the COVID pandemic where we had research that had to shut down and sites that had to move on. However, we want to see a firm commitment from your partners. So please be mindful and work on those as early as you can so that you can provide them in your application.

What will not be funded? We have very specific areas of research, the three that I mentioned at the top of the conversation. Anything outside of those three areas will not be supported by NIJ. Please be sure that you identify which particular category that you're being responsive to. However, if you are looking to do research on policing, for instance, that would be unresponsive here. Just be mindful and be very clear about which particular area that you're going to be focusing on in your application.

Duplicative or similar research will not be funded this year. Now, we understand that this is a new effort for NIJ but this does not mean that we do not have research going on the corrections space. I encourage you to take some time to review the NIJ webpage to see the research that we have funded in corrections over the years and what we have ongoing right now so that you understand potentially that those are not the issues that you should be addressing in your proposal. And that doesn't mean that you can't add on to what NIJ has currently funded and that's on the ground, but, again, we do not want to fund the exact same research.

Something else that we will not fund is applications primarily to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies, nor will this solicitation support training and direct services unrelated to the project. Now, we can fund some level of training but most of the budget and the research should be focused on getting the work done that's being proposed in the application.

The important FAQs. With this solicitation, we have $3.5 million to support research. We're hoping to make about four awards but that's not a firm number. We can make more, we can make fewer if projects are larger and more rigorous. We're really open in terms of what we intend to fund in terms of the number of awards. With regard to period of performance, we envision a January 1, 2024 start date and most projects go about 60 months or so. Again, as I mentioned, you want to specify your focus area that's in the solicitation so we are very clear about what it is you're applying to do for us. With regards to the timing of award and non-award notifications, NIJ is required to make all of our award announcements by the end of the fiscal year so we will be making award announcements in early October. Be sure to keep checking the OJP website for notifications about the awards that are being made. And we also expect to make non-award notifications this fall. Now, again, we do encourage the project team to have sub-awards and consultants as necessary, as well as co-investigators. That's really up to the team and the researchers to plan and manage the appropriate team. Unfortunately, foreign entities cannot apply to this solicitation this year.

Again, because we are a research and evaluation agency, IRB, HSP, our Human Subjects Protections guidance, we will be making sure that you have all of that on file before we actually get your projects on the ground.

As the Director mentioned, we have several priorities. One of them being a new investigator. NIJ is really encouraging minority-serving institutions and individuals that are new in their career to submit to our solicitations, including this one. If you are falling into those priority categories, please be very clear about it on your title page so that we know who's applying.

Now, with regards to support, as the Director mentioned, this can be kind of complicated. We have a lot of resources for you. We have our OJP Response Center here at our component that provides information about our solicitations. We have the Grants.gov team, as well as just JustGrants, because, again, you have those two deadlines, one for JustGrants and one for Grants.gov. So if you run into any trouble, please screenshot this particular slide (Slide 16) or it's in the solicitation. We're happy to provide that to you should you need it.

Some more resources for you. The OJP.gov funding page (Slide 17) provides a lot of information, again, not just about NIJ but our sister agencies within the component. The financial guide provides very clear guidance about what is an allowable expense and what isn't. So, again, if you want to be very clear about whether or not incentives are allowable, you would find it in the financial guide. And they are allowable, by the way. NIJ has an FAQ page on our funding web page and can answer any number of questions you might have about what we have funded, what we're doing in other areas of our funding opportunities. So if you have any questions, please do look on our funding page. As I mentioned, it's really important to understand what NIJ has funded in the corrections space. We have a corrections portfolio webpage. You'll find a lot of information about the work that we have done in the past and what we're doing now and where we're headed. So please do take a look at the portfolio page for more information about NIJ's work in corrections.

With that, I want to open up our session for any questions that you might have. And thank you for your attention. And I'll turn it over to Dr. Crimmins and Dr. Clark-Moorman.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: Thank you. We have our first question from the chat box. Attendees are interested to know if the solicitation will support projects that focus on jails and/or prisons and/or juvenile facilities.

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, it is open to all correctional facilities. Primarily, our corrections portfolio does focus on adults. However, Correctional Culture and Climate extends to juveniles as well. If you have a rigorous proposal that you would like to submit, we highly encourage it.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Hello. We also have some really interesting good questions in the Q&A section, starting with "Do you know if the solicitation will be offered again next year?"

NANCY LA VIGNE: That's definitely a question for me. I don't know. A lot will depend on what our FY '24 budget looks like. I do know that we are not able to offer the same solicitations year after year because of budget constraints. So assume this is the only shot you have and perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised, but it could end up being that we skip next year based on other priorities. Not my preference. My preference is to release them all.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Thanks. Another question we have is "Technology and software enhancements to jail management systems software in the scope of funded activities, can they fund agency-level IT work to better gather data?"

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, absolutely. If that's going to improve the data collection, and the research, we will provide support in that space. Again, just be very mindful that the majority of your budget should be focused on the research and the implementation of the study itself. For systems that are more interested in that kind of assistance, that's more our sister agency, BJA, provides those types of services. But for the purposes of this solicitation, yes, we can but it needs to be like a small proportion of the funds that are allocated to that specific expense.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: We have an additional question in the chat. "With regards to dissemination, in addition to journal publications, would a thesis and/or conference presentation be included in the dissemination?"

MARIE GARCIA: Presentations at professional conferences? Absolutely. We really want our grantees to disseminate and get the word out about their research, so we would absolutely encourage the presentation of findings at a conference. With regard to a thesis paper, we do have a graduate research fellowship program for graduate students. So if you have students who are in Ph.D. programs that want to do research in this space, we do have specific opportunities for them. That's not as widely disseminated as a trade journal article or something on the NIJ webpage, so I'm going to say no, not really to that one.

NANCY LA VIGNE: And just to share a little bit more about dissemination. There's bare minimum dissemination and then there's thinking really creatively about how these findings can prompt changes and improvements in policies and practices. We recognize and appreciate and value journal articles but we also know that journal articles are typically only read by other people who write journal articles and they aren't necessarily the people who can benefit from the findings. And so we want to encourage you to develop research that is applied such that it will yield findings that have clear implications for improvements in policies and practices and then to think very strategically and comprehensively about how to share those findings with the people who are most likely to be able to make those changes.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Thank you. We have a question about the narrative, and someone is asking how do they write a thorough narrative if the changes in program, policies, and practice are not determined until after the baseline data collection and analysis?

MARIE GARCIA: That's a great question. We do understand that you don't know what you don't know until you actually dig into the data and start to make changes. And we do allow changes to take place in the scope of our work because we understand that you're measuring the behaviors of individuals and organizations, so we understand we need to be flexible. However, with regard to writing a very thorough narrative, be clear about that. Be clear about should we see and identify some changes down the road, here's what we expect to do with regard to our analysis plan. You can be flexible and include those kind of hypotheticals in your narrative so that we understand that we could see some changes later on should the project be funded.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: Thank you. And we have another question from the chat. "Can you talk more about the literature review needed to find gaps in the current literature? What are you looking to have submitted?"

MARIE GARCIA: As I mentioned, you have very limited space, and so we want you to focus on the design and the implications for the design, for the research and, of course, dissemination. But with the lit review, we just need to know that you recognize, "Here are the problems and the gaps that we need to answer and here's how our research is going to do that." It doesn't need to be lengthy. It doesn't need to be, you know, 10 pages. That's a third of the actual narrative itself. But be succinct but actually be very direct about what it is. Identify those gaps, tell us what they are, and how you're going to address those.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Just add to that, I think of the lit review for a Proposal Narrative, a successful one, as being kind of like telling a story: this is the issue or problem; this is why it's important; this is what prior research has told us about it; but here's what remains unknown, and one of these things is what we're proposing. It's just a very simple formula but it's one that tends to work well in demonstrating that you are well-versed in the literature, which is important to us and to peer reviewers, and also demonstrating that what you're proposing to do will add value and build upon our knowledge base.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And in the Q&A and the chat, we have a few questions about the scope of what can be included in a proposal. And so the first one is "Can community corrections agencies be included?"

MARIE GARCIA: Yes because we are seeing interest in the culture and climate of organizations and how the individuals there transfer into the community. Due to the high percentage of people who are in corrections are going to be released at some point, most of them will be released with community supervision. If we see joint proposals with both community corrections and institutional, that's great too.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I'm not interested in narrowing any scopes. Bring us your best ideas as long as you feel like you can make the case that they fit under this solicitation, which I'm sure most of you have read it thoroughly and know it covers a lot of territory.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And going along with that, "Would this solicitation support studying post-custody reentry health access compared to in-custody healthcare delivery? So would it support post-custody questions as well?"

MARIE GARCIA: Again, as the Director mentioned, as long as you can tie it back not only to culture and climate, but how the implementation of service delivery is impacted by culture and climate and vice versa, yes, it fits. Again, identify which category you want to submit to and propose your best idea.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: "Is it okay to focus on COs and staff only or would you prefer--or what--does the solicitation limit to include incarcerated persons as well?"

MARIE GARCIA: The solicitation specifically calls out personnel. The custody staff, as well as education, medical, everyone on down, as well as the incarcerated person. Applicants can decide what's the best way to move forward with your proposal but we are encouraging the assessment of both staff and the individuals who are in custody.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: We have a question in the chat regarding eligibility to apply. "If the project will take place from the United States and the colleagues and collaborators are located in the United States, can one of the individuals live outside of the United States?"

MARIE GARCIA: That's dependent on the relationship with the American-based organization. Because we make awards to organizations, not people, you have to be tied to the organization. If you are potentially someone on sabbatical who is based in the American institution but you happen to be in sabbatical for a certain amount of time outside of the country, that's perfectly fine.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I think I know the answer to this. I think if your compensation requires you to pay US taxes, then you're good.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: And we have one more question from the chat. "Would partnering with county jail officials who are responsible for local policies be related to dissemination?"

MARIE GARCIA: Absolutely. Because we want to focus on disseminating your information and the research findings to that community, we encourage you to partner with those agencies in terms of not only maybe collaborating on dissemination activities but making sure that they have it and that they can give it to their stakeholders as well as their community and their staff.  That would be a great partnership.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And along with dissemination again. "So if the researcher did a pilot program internal evaluation report that was made available to the public, would that count in the dissemination strategy?"

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, that would count. Interim pilot findings, that information, of course, would come to NIJ--and, again, we can help disseminate it as well. So we could do a multipronged approach to getting your information out, whether it's interim findings or your final findings of the project.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: "Would NIJ want the applicant to actually be the research team or the agency?"

MARIE GARCIA: As I mentioned, with this solicitation, we are funding entities, for example universities, think tanks, et cetera, not individuals. It would depend on whether your partner, your correctional partner, has a grant office within their agency, because that might determine how the actual structure of the grant is set up. So if they don't have one, then it's obviously going to be the other partner. We don't have a preference. It just has to make sense for the actual research and getting it implemented.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I will caution though, because if it's any research proposed in a correctional setting, the bar for Human Subjects Protections is very high. Appropriately so. When you think about what the partnership looks like and who the lead entity will be, just bear in mind that there's going to be a significant IRB process.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: "Are prison personnel limited to being subject matter experts as part of the application?"

MARIE GARCIA: As the Director mentioned, we are looking for any number of expertise that can support the research. This could be individuals who work in custody, individuals who formerly worked in a custody setting, individuals have lived experience.

NANCY LA VIGNE: They can be subject matter experts. They can be members of a research team. They can be part of data collection. They could have a role in interpreting findings. There's any number of roles they can play, recognizing that they may have some limitations.

MARIE GARCIA: I will add, as long as what we need to see in the application is that the experts that you've brought on have certain skill and expertise and that they're going to support certain elements of the project. You just want to be mindful of making sure you have the right people with the right skillsets. What role they play will be up to the research team.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Thank you. And what about formerly incarcerated individuals, would they be able to be members of the research team?

MARIE GARCIA: Absolutely. And that's a priority for our Director. It's a priority for OJP. We absolutely want to hear about their lived experience but we also want it to inform the research. We don't necessarily only want their experiences to be the focus but we want them to be part of shaping the work.

DANIELLE CRIMMINS: We have an additional question in the chat regarding the budget. "Will compensation to participating facilities be allowed under the budget?"

NANCY LA VIGNE: Yes. So here's an example:  maybe you want to give resources to a facility to assist in data collection, would that be allowable? Absolutely, yes.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Now, just a few more questions in the Q&A. "So within the solicitation, are you looking for an intervention and evaluation, just research, or both?

MARIE GARCIA: As the Director mentioned, we're wide open. We really are interested if there are interventions that would potentially impact climate and culture and you can do a post follow-up, absolutely, we want to fund that. We want to just be very supportive of any innovative ideas that you might have. So the answer is yes.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And just some clarifications for what everyone is looking for. "Is research considered something like funding a pilot program or is the program being researched the funded activity?"

NANCY LA VIGNE: I think so. We have a sister agency, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), that would support a request for solely programmatic interventions or interventions of any kind. I should also mention there is a companion solicitation that BJA released. But that's more for a training and technical assistance provider to work with facilities on data collection and development of interventions that are related to transforming correctional cultures. But, for us, research has to be the key goal of the proposal. I'll give you an example. An actual real example. I received an award from NIJ years ago where we were able to use some share of the resources to pay for recordable cameras to be put in blind spots in a jail to see whether that intervention increased safety and reduced certain types of infractions that were happening in these blind spots. The cost of the cameras was allowable in the context of that evaluation.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And going along with that, could they fund things like data-gathering enhancements? So something like software capability, enhancements to existing software systems but not hardware like you just noted?


KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: And I think the last question I believe I have in the Q&A as of now is "Is a large-scale study, so something like partnering with a national organization or a large quantity of agencies, or something smaller, like one jail, more desirable for an applicant?"

MARIE GARCIA: I don't mean to be vague on this but yes to both. If you have the ability to do a national scan, a national survey with many partner agencies, that's wonderful. We're certainly willing to support that type of work. Again, I would be mindful of the fact that our sister agency, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, conducts their own correctional data collections and on a national scale. Again, if we can add to and support their efforts and not duplicate them, national scans are great. But we aren't shy about funding projects in one facility. We have a lot to learn about corrections, especially jails and rural jails and county jails and just prisons. We understand that there are agencies that are large and those are the agencies that get a lot of attention, but that's not the majority of how corrections is done in this country. If you have a one-site, very rigorous design, absolutely. Send it in.

NANCY LA VIGNE: And the only thing that I will add to that is that occasionally, or even often, we'll have peer reviewers say, "Well, it's an evaluation of one program and one jurisdiction and one jail. How generalizable will it be?" So I think that applications that look at more than one site tend to be more competitive from a peer review process. That said, I've seen some excellent proposals and really impactful research that just looks at one. So there's no right or wrong.

MARIE GARCIA: We do see criticisms about generalizability so get in front of it and say exactly why your one site would be a good addition to the literature and to the field. Know that the criticism is coming and just answer it in your narrative.

KYLEIGH CLARK-MOORMAN: Thank you both. And, yes, I think that's all for the questions that we have.

MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Great. Well, thank you all for your thoughtful questions.

STACY LEE: This will end today's presentation. Thank you, everyone.

MARIE GARCIA: Great. Thank you. Have a great afternoon.

Date Published: July 5, 2023